There is no dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and no institution or individual can take away rights of the marginalised given under the Constitution, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said.
Mr Singh said in the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour that the government has already taken steps for ensuring rights of SC/STs by amending the relevant law.
"I want to assure the House the protection given under the Constitution to SC/ST persons cannot be taken away by any institution or any individual," Mr Singh said.
To ensure there is no dilution of the SC and ST Act, the government has taken required steps to strengthen the law, he said, adding that not only the act but also rules have been amended.
The Home Minister's statement came after CPI leader D Raja raised concern over the recent Supreme Court order.
With regard to the conviction rate, the Home Minister said that earlier special courts used to be there. "Our government felt that special courts are not sufficient, and therefore special exclusive courts were established."
About 194 such courts have been set up. "With the establishment of special exclusive courts, the conviction rate will improve," he said.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said special exclusive courts have been set up in 24 states, while special courts in 30 states.
The states should also take interest if there is delay in setting up of the courts, he added.
The minister further said there was no rise in crimes against SC/ST persons between 2013 and 2016 according to the data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
In 2016, 40,801 cases were registered in crimes against SCs, while 6,568 cases against STs.
Section 15A of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, as amended, specifies that it shall be the duty and responsibility of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims, their dependents and witnesses against any kind of intimidation or coercion or inducement or violence or threats of violence, he added.
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