Parliament passes bill to prevent atrocities against SCs, STs

Parliament passes bill to prevent atrocities against SCs, STs

Parliament today passed a crucial bill that provides for stringent action against those involved in crimes against scheduled castes and tribes, wrongfully occupying their land or dedicating such women as a 'devadasi'.

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill also provides for establishing special courts to try such offences and the rehabilitation of victims and aimed at prohibiting the commission of offences against members of the SC and ST communities.

Assaulting or sexually exploiting an SC or ST woman is an offence under the bill which states that any intentional touching of an SC or ST woman in a sexual manner without her consent, using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature, dedicating an SC or ST women as a devadasi to a temple, or any similar practice will be considered an offence.

Wrongfully occupying land belonging to SCs or STs is an offence under the bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha in August.

It also declares as an offence garlanding with footwear, compelling to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or do manual scavenging, abusing SCs or STs by caste name in public, attempting to promote feelings of ill-will against SCs or STs or disrespecting any deceased person held in high esteem and imposing or threatening a social or economic boycott.

The Bill specifies that a non-SC or ST public servant who neglects his duties relating to SCs or STs shall be punishable with imprisonment for six months to one year.

The measure, which seeks to amend the 1989 Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, also has certain new categories of actions to be treated as offences like forcing an SC or ST individual to vote or not vote for a particular candidate in an illegal manner.

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