SCHEDULED CASTES AND THE SCHEDULED TRIBES (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT, 1989
Why in news? Supreme Court is reviewing the dilution and misuse of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes (prevention of atrocities) act, 1989.
THE SCHEDULED CASTES AND THE SCHEDULED TRIBES (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT, 1989:
Objectives of the act were to:
prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,
establish Special Courts for the trial of such offences and
Provide relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences.
Limitations of the Act:
The act failed to cover certain forms of atrocities, known to be occurring in recent years.
The implementation of the Act also suffered due to
procedural hurdles such as non-registration of cases;
procedural delays in investigation, arrests and filing of charge-sheets; and
delays in trial and low conviction rate.
Therefore, the above act was amended in 2015
THE SCHEDULED CASTES AND THE SCHEDULED TRIBES (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) AMENDMENT ACT, 2015
New offences of atrocities:
It adds new categories of actions to be treated as offences such as garlanding with footwear, compelling to do manual scavenging, imposing or threatening a social or economic boycott.
Exclusive Special Courts to be established along with the specification of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors to ensure completion of the trial of the case within two months, from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
Addition of presumption to the offences:
If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise.
It clearly defines the term ‘wilful negligence’ of public servants at all levels, starting from the registration of complaint, and covering aspects of dereliction of duty under this Act.
Rights of victims and witnesses:
The Bill adds a chapter on the rights of victims and witness.
It shall be the duty of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims, their dependents and witnesses.
The state government shall specify a scheme to ensure the implementation of rights of victims and witnesses.
FACT # 2
PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION
Why in news? Recently Supreme Court has observed that Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been widely misused by people with political agenda and they pose a grave danger to the entire judicial process.
PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL):
Via PIL, any member of public can initiate legal proceedings on behalf of an aggrieved person, especially a person who is unable to move to court on his or her own.
Such proceedings can be initiated in either the High Court or the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the constitution or legal rights of a person or a group of person.
Key role in enunciating the principle of PIL was played by Justice J. Bhagwati.
The scope of PIL was further widened by the Supreme Court through its judgment in the case of C .Mehta v. Union of India.
It ruled that poor in India can seek enforcement of their fundamental rights from the Supreme Court by writing a letter to any judge of the court even without the support of an affidavit.
This virtually brought legal aid to the door steps of teeming millions of India.
PIL has also helped in cleansing the administration by insisting on the punishment of those who are involved in various scams and corruption cases in public life.
It is well known that several scams like the Hawala Scam, Urea Scam, Fodder Scam in Bihar, Illegal allotment of Government Houses and Petrol pumps etc., came to light only through PIL.
CRITICISM OF PIL:
By entertaining cases of violation of fundamental rights through letters, the court remains flooded with litigation, resulting in delay in the disposal of several other important cases.
Secondly, PIL is likely to lead to conflicts between the three organs of government on account of right of courts to interfere in the working of other two organs.
Thirdly, that the decision of the courts in PIL cases are not likely to be enforced.
FACT # 3
Why in news? India was absent from the Malaria Summit in London despite having the third largest malaria cases in the world.
Malaria is a fatal, disease spread by mosquitoes and caused by a parasite.
Malaria was a significant health risk in the U.S. until it was eliminated by multiple programs in the late 1940s.