Originally established for the purpose of ending prevalent atrocities on the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe population of India, the SC/ST act has now become a mechanism for vengeance. Yet another instance of such an act has been repeated in Bihar, where Police have booked a class one student for molestation of a woman under the SC/ST act.
An 8-year old child to be arrested under SC/ST act by Bihar Police
A mahadalit woman in Khagaria, Bihar has registered a complaint against a family for alleged atrocities on her. The complaint has been registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST act). An arrest warrant has been issued against Arvind Yadav, his wife Kari Devi, their minor child studying in class one and a certain Phultan Yadav.
According to the complainant, three persons forced themselves into her house in Fatehpur. She alleged that all of them assaulted her while the eight-year-old boy pulled her saree. She further alleged that Phultan took away the earrings and a gold locket from her, while all others scampered through with the four goats in accusee’s possession. Without giving any reason behind the alleged episode she accused Kari Devi of provoking all other accused of committing the act.
DSP did not perform his due diligence and now SP is forced to save the face
While FIRs under the SC/ST act has become a regular affair, the presence of an 8-year old child among arrestees has invited swathes of criticism. According to the details available in the media, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ranjeet Kumar Singh, a gazetted high-rank officer has authorised his juniors for the arrest of the child. The due diligence of supervising the pre-warrant investigation was done by DSP himself.
Meanwhile, Khagaria SP Amitesh Kumar has come forward to save the face of Bihar Police in the matter. He has ordered fresh supervision of the case from another DSP. Raising suspicion over the competence of DSP, Mr Kumar said, “I am going to seek an explanation from the DSP if he had actually visited the spot before issuing arrest order how he missed the age factor of the child in course of investigation and supervision if he had visited the spot at all,”
The arrest warrant against a child is just a string in the node
It’s not the first time that someone has been wrongly hounded under the SC/ST act by the criminal justice system of the country. The government’s insistence on deviating from fundamental legal principles while framing the act has led to a plethora of false cases under the act. In February this year, after 20-years of jail time for the alleged rape and molestation of a woman, Allahabad High court acquitted a man from charges under the SC/ST act.
Read more: Man spends 20 years in jail under false rape charges under SC/ST Act
Similarly, in March this year, a lady forest officer committed suicide in Maharashtra due to harassment by her senior. Her senior had sexually assaulted her and when she wanted to file a complaint and was constantly threatening her with arrest under the SC/ST act. Correspondingly in May this year, actress Munmun Datta was harassed by so-called Dalit activists for her lack of knowledge about a word used to insult Dalits. In spite of having no ill-intention, she had to issue an apology as she was constantly being threatened of getting framed under the SC/ST act.
Read more: The unfair hounding of Munmun Dutta despite her apology shows how blatantly SC/ST Act is misused
SC/ST act-Stoking YOU vs ME kind of tribal mentality in the country
The SC/ST act is one of the most stringent acts stoking tribalism in the country. If you are framed under SC/ST act by anyone belonging to those communities, no preliminary investigation is compulsorily required for the arrest. Since the honourable Supreme Court was well-aware of its misuse, it issued a guideline in 2018, under which a preliminary investigation by an officer was required to arrest an accused. However, the Union government again passed a new bill in parliament in order to ensure that those clauses remain. Moreover, an accused can not apply for a pre-arrest bail, something which should be a fundamental right for anyone.
Read more: India’s judicial process is painfully slow not because of Judiciary or Legislature but extra-judicial intellectuals
Ever since its inception, the SC/ST act has become a tool to settle personal scores against a person belonging to OBC and the General community. The absence of pre-arrest bail coupled with the left activists stoked hate in the mind of SC/ST people presents a perfect soup for false and absurd cases under the act. Over a period of time, the purpose of the SC/ST act has been defeated and it’s time for the government to rethink it.