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Conviction rate poor under SC & ST Act: official document

B. Aravind Kumar
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Over a thousand cases are being booked every year under SC & ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, but the conviction rate was poor as the affected turned hostile at the time of trial or reached a compromise with the accused after obtaining monetary relief.

An official document presented to the State-level vigilance and monitoring committee presided by Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Wednesday has also revealed the areas prone to caste atrocities in the State based on the number of pending cases at courts.

Over 1,000 cases were filed under the SC & ST Prevention of Atrocities Act every year according to statistics available from 2005.

Verbal abuse

Of this 90 per cent were booked on charges of verbal abuse on caste lines. As the trial process involved 13 stages in courts and as it takes one month to cross each stage, there were chances of witnesses forgetting the events, officials reasoned.

One of the major reasons for the poor rate of conviction was that the affected often turned hostile. The affected make a compromise with the accused as charges for verbal abuse were not harsh. Further, the affected turned hostile as 80 per cent of the affected receive monetary relief immediately after charge sheets are filed leading to the release of the accused.

The Government, to its credit, has sanctioned about Rs.1.5 crore as monetary relief to the affected annually from 2006.

The document prepared by the Social Justice and Human Rights Wing of Adi Dravidar Welfare Department has that 2,822 cases were pending at courts and special courts and district-wise data of pending cases has clearly mapped the “hotspots.”

Madurai rural

tops the list

Madurai rural tops the list with 353 cases pending before the courts followed by Sivaganga (310), Tirunelveli (220), Villupuram (220), Virudhunagar (205), Dindigul (158), Thanjavur (136) and Ramanathapuram (131). The Nilgiris is the only district with a single digit (7) number.

Among the cities, Madurai tops with 35 pending cases followed by Chennai (18), Salem (13), Coimbatore (10) and Tiruchi (2).

Surveys done in 2010 have identified 174 villages as atrocity-prone and 295 villages as peaceful.

At the time of the survey, infrastructural needs like roads, street lights, drinking water and access to availability of burial grounds were assessed.

Providing basic amenities to SC and ST Communities has been chosen as the key to reduce caste conflicts in the Government's action plan.

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