Conviction rate in SC, ST atrocities cases poor

Conviction rate in SC, ST atrocities cases poor

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge. DH file photo.

The conviction rate of crimes against members of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) has been abysmally low at 5% in the state. Statistics show that while the number of cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is on the rise since last three years, the conviction rate has been on the decline.

According to the statistics provided to the committee by the Directorate of Civil Rights Enforcement and Director of Prosecution, the conviction rate of cases under the Atrocities Act has been 5% since last two years (2016 and 2017). The rate of conviction was 6% in 2015. Number of cases pending before the courts is also increasing. By the end of 2015, cases pending before the courts were 3,948, while the same is 5,207 as of July 2018.  

Till July 2018, a total of 88 cases have ended in acquittal, while only two cases have ended in conviction. In the last three years, of the total cases registered only 177 cases ended in conviction, while 3,283 cases got acquitted.

A senior police official said that the decrease in conviction rate is seen in the other category of cases, such as Indian Penal Code, across the country. He attributed the sharp decline in conviction rate largely to lack of evidence and witnesses turning hostile in some instances.

The 2016 data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that the conviction rate of crimes against SCs plunged to 16 in 2016 from 38 in 2010, while the same against STs decreased to 8 in 2016 from 26 in 2010.

Interestingly, the 2016 data of SCRB stated that Karnataka recorded 2.8% conviction rate. The NCRB report revealed that Karnataka was one of the states with low conviction rates along with Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

In the recent meeting, the Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, expressed concern over the decreasing conviction rate. The committee is meeting again to discuss the issues concerning the investigation and prosecution of cases under the Atrocities Act. A member of the committee told DH that special courts were set up in eight districts to try cases under the Atrocities Act.

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge told DH that his department has brought out a handbook detailing steps to follow while filing a case to investigation.

“I had reviewed these aspects (conviction rate) immediately after I took charge as the minister. Sometimes, police fail to apply appropriate section and in some other cases prosecution fails to conduct the case properly.

“Considering all these issues, I had prepared a handbook two months back detailing the provisions under the Act and steps to be taken.

“This handbook was distributed not only to the superintendents of police of all the districts but also to all the organisations, including SC, ST or women organisations,’’ Kharge said.