Scheduled Castes Current Affairs

SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act: Government to File Review Petition

Union law ministry is preparing to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that puts a stop to immediate arrests in complaints filed under its provisions.

Back ground

Previously, in an attempt to curb the misuse of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989) and protect honest public servants Supreme Court gave following verdict:

  • An arrest is not mandatory under the SC/ST Act, and the automatic arrest has been scrapped.
  • The court further directed that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority. This was to protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the Atrocities Act
  • Supreme Court also ruled that before arresting a public servant under the Act, a preliminary investigation by an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent is a must

SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was enacted in the year 1989.  It is a comprehensive law which not only defines atrocities against SCs and STs but also make several rules, regulations etc. for proper protection of these vulnerable classes. One of the provisions of the law states that public servant (non SC/ST) neglecting his duties related to SCs/STs will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 1 year. Ministry of Social Justice is the nodal ministry to enforce the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

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Odisha’s Sualgiri, Swalgiri Communities Notified as Scheduled Castes

Sualgiri and Swalgiri communities of Odisha have been notified as Scheduled Castes after President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Act, 2017. Last month, Rajya Sabha had passed the bill after it was cleared by the Lok Sabha in March. Accordingly, the Sualgiri, Swalgiri communities have been notified as Scheduled Castes in the modified list for Odisha.

Similarly, the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order, 1964 has replaced the term Union Territory of Pondicherry to Puducherry.

Benefits

The Constitution provides certain privileges and concessions to the members of Scheduled Castes notified under the provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution. The Scheduled Castes status will entitle these communities to get reservation in government jobs and admission into educational institutions in addition to some other financial benefits. The government implements various schemes for the benefit of the Scheduled Castes like post-matric scholarship, national overseas scholarship, Rajiv Gandhi national fellowship, concessional loans from National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation, provision of hostel facilities for the SC boys and girls etc.

Background

The constitution of India empowers the Parliament of India to modify the list of notified scheduled castes, which upon receiving the assent of the President of India can be notified as Scheduled Castes. Under the provision of Article 341, list of SCs in relation to a states/UT is to be issued by a notified Order of the President after consulting concerned state Government. But the clause (2) of Article 341 envisages that, any subsequent inclusion in or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Castes can be effected only through an Act of Parliament.

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