Atrocities against SC / STs

Govt to seek priority trial in special courts
DH News Service

The State Government will approach the High Court to seek concurrence to a proposal which seeks to empower the six special courts to give priority for trial of cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act over other cases.

The decision to approach the High Court to issue an amendment to the notification in this connection was taken today at a meeting of a high-level committee which periodically reviews the implementation of the law to prevent atrocities against the Dalits.

Home Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge who gave this information to newspersons said the meeting of the committee had decided to launch a campaign from district to hobli level to create public awareness about the law relating to prevention of atrocities against dalits.

The Social Welfare Department will take care of the campaign and the minister concerned had been asked to set up teams and prepare campaign material to start the campaign in right earnest. The meeting had taken note of the fact that many a time the poor success rate in cases relating to atrocities in courts was due to the reluctance of witnesses to appear before courts to tender evidence at the cost of their daily earning and a decision was taken to streamline the procedure relating to payment of bata for witnesses attending courts.

Under the new dispensation, arreangements will be made to empower the taluk magistrates to make available funds for payment of bata immediately to the witnesses both at the pre-investigation stage and at the time they appear before the courts.

Mr Kharge said at present as high as 95 per cent of cases under the Act were resulting in acquittal and it had been decided to ask the authorities both on the investigating and prosecution sides to ensure foolproof investigation and meticulous conduct of the cases. Instructions had also been issued to appoint only those with a minimum of seven years of practice were appointed as special prosecutors.

In this connection, Mr Kharge pointed out that out of 244 cases registered in 1996, only three had ended in conviction and 95 in acquittal while others were pending. The cases registered in the following two years were 230 and 127 respectively. Of them three were convictions and 25 acquittals respectively.

Transfer of cases: Mr Kharge said that about 3,000 cases under the Act which were pending before sessions court had been transferred to the courts of the magistrates in accordance with a decision of the Supreme Court.

When his attention was drawn to the reported group clashes in a village nearby Mandya, Mr Kharge said they wre sparked off by a minor incident involving two boys. The situaiton was now under control.

Mr Kharge warned those who take law into their own hands and indulge in atrocities against the weaker sections or ty to interfere with their rights under the impression that the Government was weak would be dealt with sternly.

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