The maximum punishment for such atrocities is 10 years now
New Delhi : Crimes against members of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) will attract a 20-year jail term under a draft Bill before the Union Cabinet to amend the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The maximum punishment for such atrocities is 10 years now.
The draft legislation has been prepared by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, seeking the overhaul of the Act, to remove various shortcomings and loopholes which helped the perpetrators of crimes escape the law. It revised the draft after its first proposal was returned by the Cabinet three months ago because of difference of opinion.
The Act is sought to be made more stringent, by including tonsuring and garlanding with footwear also qualifying as a crime against the SC and ST communities on par with the crime of forcible removal of clothes and the parading of victims in naked or semi-naked states.
While the Act defines dispossession of land and water as forms of atrocities, the draft Bill expands the clause to also include the destruction of crops and seizure of the produce as equal crimes. Manual scavenging, drum-beating, forcible digging of graves and removal of carcasses are included as senior crimes.
The draft Bill also makes it incumbent on government servants to discharge their duties properly and act against the violators of the atrocities’ law, failing which they could be jailed up to six months.