No institution or an individual can take away rights of the marginalised given under the Constitution, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday as centre assured Rajya Sabha that there is no dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
“I want to assure the House the protection given under the Constitution to SC/ST persons cannot be taken away by any institution or any individual,” Rajnath Singh said during Question Hour, adding the government has already taken steps for ensuring rights of SC/STs by amending the relevant law.
The Home Minister’s statement came after CPI leader D Raja raised concern over the recent Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
With regard to the conviction rate, the Home Minister said that earlier special courts used to be there. “Our government felt that special courts are not sufficient, and therefore special exclusive courts were established,” he said.
“With the establishment of special exclusive courts, the conviction rate will improve,” he said adding about 194 such courts have been set up. The special exclusive courts have been set up in 24 states, while special courts in 30 states, the government told the house on the opening day of Monsoon session.
Responding to the query, the minister further said there was no rise in crimes against SC/ST persons between 2013 and 2016 according to the data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). In 2016, 40,801 cases were registered in crimes against SCs, while 6,568 cases against STs.
Section 15A of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, as amended, specifies that it shall be the duty and responsibility of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims, their dependents and witnesses against any kind of intimidation or coercion or inducement or violence or threats of violence, he added.
(With inputs from PTI)