The government on Wednesday told Rajya Sabha that crimes against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the country increased by 7.3 per cent and 26.5 per cent respectively in 2019.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, however, said police and public order are state subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and the responsibilities to maintain law and order, protection of life and property of citizens including investigation and prosecution of crime against members of SCs and STs rest with respective state governments.
"Yes, sir," was the reply of Mr Reddy when asked whether it is a fact that crimes against members of SCs and STs communities have increased by 7.3 per cent and 26.5 per cent respectively in 2019 as per the latest ''Crime in India-2019'' report of the National Crime Records Bureau.
The written question was asked by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
Mr Reddy said the state governments are competent to deal with such offences under the extant provisions of laws.
However, he said, the central government is committed to ensure protection of SCs and STs and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (PoA Act) has been amended in 2015 to make it more effective.
The amendments include new offences, expanded scope of presumptions, institutional strengthening, which includes establishment of exclusive special courts and specification of exclusive special public prosecutors to exclusively try the offences under the PoA Act to enable expeditious disposal of cases, power of special courts and exclusive special courts to take direct cognizance of offence and as far as possible, completion of trial within two months from the date of filing of the charge sheet besides others, he said.
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