Tamil Nadu

T.N.’s conviction rate in SC/ST cases dismal

Over 94% of cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, across Tamil Nadu during the last six years have resulted in acquittals, documents obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act have revealed.

According to information obtained by social worker J.B. Aju Aravind from the Office of the Additional Director General of Police (Social Justice and Human Rights), of the total 1,934 cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, in which judgments have been delivered between 2011 and 2016, only 108 cases have resulted in convictions.

Though the judgments are delivered based on evidence and merits of the case, some legal experts feel that the high percentage of acquittals point to lack of commitment on the part of law enforcing agencies in dealing with such cases and the inadequate representation of Dalits in the judiciary.

Issue begins early

“In most of these cases, the issue starts from the very beginning of the investigation. The Investigating Officer (IO) would be biased in most of the cases and the casteist mindset among them would affect the case. The law only says the IO should be in the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, but it should make it mandatory that he/she should be a Dalit,” contends retired judge of the Madras High Court Justice D. Hariparanthaman.

Pointing to the inadequate number of Dalits in judiciary, Justice Hariparanthaman says when there are more Dalits in the system, better would be the way in which these cases are treated.

Even clear cases of caste discrimination have not resulted in convictions, he contends, and refers to the Melavalavu and Thinniyam cases. “In Thinniyam, human excreta was forced into a Dalit’s mouth, and still, the accused were not convicted under SC/ST (PoA) case. What can you expect?” he asks.

Noted advocate D. Nagasaila of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) says police commitment was needed for better conviction rates in these cases.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 1:04:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tns-conviction-rate-in-scst-cases-dismal/article17746347.ece

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