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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Atrocious Ignorance of a Chief Minister

Three innocent Dalit youths, including two minor, were killed by police in Thangadh where police denied lodging a simple complaint against upper castes people who had beaten Dalits over a minor scuffle. Had the police lodged the complaint, the tragedy would have been averted. In Gujarat chief minister is directly responsible for the non-implementation of the Atrocity Act.

Under The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, it is the duty of District Superintendent of Police (DSP) to appoint an officer not below the rank of DySP as an investigating officer for the offenses registered under the same act.

On 16 April, 2004, a question was asked to chief minister Modi in Gujarat legislative assembly: “Honorable chief minister [Home] may oblige us to tell, is it true that the DSP is responsible for the appointment of an officer not below the rank of DySP as investigating officer in the offenses under atrocities act? The answer of our chief minister was shocking. He said: “No, but there is a provision under rule 7 (1) of SC/ST act, 1995 to appoint officers not above the rank of DySP to inquire into all cases booked under atrocities act. It is not the responsibility of DSP.”

“The officer not above the rank of DySP” means he may be a PSI or PI and in most of the atrocities cases courts acquit the accused because the investigation officer is either PSI or PI. Over 150 such judgments collected by the Council for Social Justice revealed that in 95% of the cases, the accused have been acquitted because of negligence on part of the authorities. In number of these cases, while the accused has been convicted under IPC section for murder and attempt to murder, has gone scot-free on the atrocity charge.

In one judgment, an honorable judge even went on to say that, “the government of Gujarat has in the year 1999 passed a resolution amending the Atrocities Act 1989, whereby the investigation can be undertaken even by a police officer not below the rank of P.I.” The Atrocities Act was enacted by parliament of India. No state government can pass any resolution to amend the act. When the chief minister and a judge both possess utter ignorance about an important act, what can we expect from an ordinary constable or clerk of this machinery?

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