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The Karnataka High Court on Monday issued notice in a plea seeking the proper implementation of various provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (POA Act) and its rules.
While issuing notice, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy observed,
Karnataka High Court
The order was passed in a plea stating that the Act and the Rules have not being implemented in Karnataka effectively. It states,
"The conviction rates in Karnataka have been extremely low. In 2014, while 1633 cases were registered under the PoA Act, there was not a single conviction and the conviction rate was 0%. This was despite the State standing third in the country in terms of the number of atrocity cases being registered."
The plea also refers to the 2017 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, which points out that the rate of crime against Scheduled Castes in Karnataka had increased during 2015-2017. As per the petitioner, the report further shows,
"The conviction rate for crimes against SC’s in Karnataka is extremely low at 1.2% of the 3564 arrests made. The rate of crime against ST in Karnataka has also seen an increase from 2015 to 2017 and the rate of conviction in crimes against STs is at 2%."
It is also submitted that the state government is required to release annual reports on the implementation of the POA Act; the last annual report it has released was in 2016. Even in the 2016 report, the provisions of the POA Act and the Rules have not been observed in its form and substance, the plea contends.
Further, various requirements envisaged under the POA Act such as the setting up of Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts for the trial of offences against SC/ST persons in districts where the rate of offences is high, have not been set up, the plea alleged.
Additionally, failure to adhere to time limits in investigation of atrocities and a failure to carry out periodic surveys of the implementation of the POA Act and POA Rules were also pointed out in the plea.
The petitioner further argued that Section 17 of the POA Act and Rule 3 of the Rules had outlined a number of precautionary measures to be taken by the state government to prevent caste atrocities.
The precautionary measures include setting up awareness centers/ organizing workshops in the identified areas and deploying special police forces in the identified areas, among others. However, the PIL submits no such measures have been put in place till date. Moreover, payments of relief to victims of caste atrocities were also not disbursed.
PIL filed before Karnataka High Court
Therefore, on these grounds, the PIL seeks a direction to the state government to effectively implement the POA Act and Rules and further, to monitor the implementation of the same.
Senior Advocate Jayna Kothari will appear on behalf of the petitioners.
The matter will be next heard on July 16.
[Read plea here]