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The ‘Dalits’ (legally recognised as ‘Scheduled Castes’) and the ‘Tribals’ (legally recognised as ‘Scheduled Tribes’) are the most marginalized sections of Indian society. Many atrocities have been committed against them since time immemorial. The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 grants protection to the aforementioned segment of population against discrimination and atrocities.[1]

Be that as it may, the impact and purpose of enactment of this legislation remains questionable as there is widespread concern over misuse of the provisions of this Act against innocent persons. As per the Supreme Court of India, the SC/ST act has become an instrument of “blackmail” and is being used by some to exact “vengeance” and satisfy vested interests.[2]

Implementation of the Act

Section 21 of the said Act provides for duty of the government to ensure effective implementation of the Act. For this purpose, the state government shall take measures as per the Rules for effective implementation. Such measures may include:

  • Provisions for adequate facilities including legal aid to the persons subject to atrocities to enable them to avail justice,
  • Provisions for travelling and maintenance expenses to witnesses, including the victim of atrocities, during investigation and trial of offences under this Act,
  • Provisions for the economic and social rehabilitation of the victims of the atrocities;
  • The appointment of officers for initiating or exercising supervision over prosecutions for the contravention of the provisions of this Act;
  • The setting up of committees at such appropriate levels as the State Government may think fit to assist that Government in formulation or implementation of such measures;
  • Provisions for a periodic survey of the working of the provisions of this Act with a view to suggesting measures for the better implementation of the provision of this Act;
  • The identification of the areas where the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are likely to be subjected to atrocities and adoption of such measures so as to ensure safety for such members.

Further, the Central Government, every year shall produce of a report in lower as well as the upper house of the Parliament pertaining to the measures taken by itself and by the state governments pursuance to the provisions of Section 21.

Process of Seeking Remedy under the Act

  • Complain of offence by victim to the nearest police station orally or in written form signed by the victim herself/himself or can be sent through registered post to the relevant police station.[3]
  • The spot investigation should be carried out by any competent official not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Thereafter a list of victims and the loss to person and damage to property is ascertained.[4]
  • The investigating officer after preparing the report sends the same to the Superintendent of Police which is subsequently forwarded to the Director General or the Commissioner of Police. Thereafter, the Inspector in Charge of the Police Station having jurisdiction is asked to file the charge-sheet in Special Court within 60 days.[5]
  • In case there is a delay in filing of charge-sheet beyond 60 days lime limit in the special court, then a reason for such delay should also be citied in its support.[6]

Measures to be Taken by State Administration

  1. The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police shall visit the place of atrocity to assess the loss of life and damage to property.
  2. The Superintendent of Police shall ensure the lodging of FIR
  3. The Superintendent of Police after the spot-investigation shall appoint an investigating officer and shall further deploy police force if required.
  4. The District Magistrate or the Sub-District Magistrate shall make arrangement for payment of relief to the victim within 7 days of filing of FIR as per Schedule I.

The Special Court may order further socio-economic rehabilitation apart for the compensation provided in the schedule.

[1] The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Bill No. 33 of 1989, Enacted on 11th September 1989. An Act to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, to provide for Special Courts for the trial of such offences and for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Commission of offences only by specified persons i.e. barbarity can be committed only by non-SCs and non-STs on members of the SC or ST communities fall under the purview of this Act.

[2] As observed by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra & Ors, 2018 (4) SCC 454.

[3] Rule 5 of SC ST (POA) Rules, 1995

[4] Rule 6 and 7(1) SC ST (POA) Rules, 1995

[5] Rule 7(2) SC ST (POA) Rules, 1995

[6] Rule 7(2A) SC ST (POA) Rules, 1995


  1. Monalisa says:

    A good piece of article .

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