I See a Syria Emerging – Brewing of a Battle between Dalit and the Government

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Amidst the Green Revolution in the 1980s, a significant number of Dalits had skipped hunger, first ever in past many millenniums. Equity likewise stayed aloof from the majority of the population and they had to snag virtually at each phase. Yet, the most visible of all and by far stirring remonstrations throughout the nation was seen on 02 April 2018, when Dalits turned out to challenge the Supreme Courts judgement, alleging dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. This is a leaping step in India’s slithering footslog from congeries of famous and credited personalities, each fastened by religious opinions and conventions to its own particular thread of feebleness in a complex and rigid social hierarchy.

In spite of the fact that the bandh was meant to be a routine political movement, it snowballed into a fierce visual. An expansive scale of dissents by Dalits occurred in different areas. Conflicts with the police broke out and savagery cleared the dissents.

The BJP government, however, supported its position on the present disaster, guaranteeing their vision[1] to be enduring.

In the midst of uproarious dissents and joining the choir against the Supreme Court’s decision, the Centre filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on Monday demanding a review of the judgment. The government has sought reimposition of the SC/ST Act as the decision abuses Article 21[2] of the Constitution for the SCs/STs.

“Innocent citizens are termed accused, which is not intended by the legislature. The legislature never intended to use the Atrocities Act as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance.”[3]

To heal this, the legislature enacted the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955 or as we now know it as the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955[4]. The Act was insufficient to fill this void in the law by bringing in the Prevention of Atrocities Act in 1989[5]. This is essentially in light of the fact that the praiseworthy question with which the Act had been made is vanquished by the disinterested state of mind of the authorities.

A study by the National Law School of India University, Bangalore has put-forth that the law was unclear in the goals – “whether the Act exists merely to remove specific disabilities symptomatic of untouchability or whether it makes a concerted effort to strike at the root of the problem. If the stated goal is the eradication of untouchability as a social evil… the Act must deal with societal structures that perpetuate oppression. The legislation has to ensure a greater role by the State, not limited to the punishment of individuals.[6]

The High Court of Bombay[7] has in 2017 noted that “there has been a failure on the part of the authorities in complying with the provisions of the Act and Rules.”

The duty is cast on all the States and the Union Territories to fully implement and to take action against the violators. Henceforth, persons aggrieved are permitted to approach the authorities concerned in the first instance and thereafter the High Court having jurisdiction.[8]

Even the N.H.R.C. in its report has observed that “even in respect of heinous crimes the police machinery in many states has been deliberately avoiding the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.[9] The standing committee of the ministry of social justice and empowerment in 2015 regarded the responsibility for the low conviction rate to willful negligence by the officials.[10]

Thus, the abundant material on record proves that the concerned authorities are guilty of not being able to and letting enforce the provisions of the Act. The travails of the people continue unabated.[11]

It is thus very evident that the law has been not been able to tackle the issues faced by the SCs/STs.

In any case, this judgment is only a trigger. Between the Una and Rohith Vemula’s episode which made nationwide scores, there are various explanations behind the outrage among Dalits. Numerous incidents have enraged them and this is what seemed unimportant to the nation.

All of this being said, this was more of an urban protest as the participants engaged were different from the old generation Dalits. This clearly will affect the upcoming elections and have an impact on the politics. However, hijacking Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is appalling. However, capturing Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar won’t work. Such a move isn’t intelligent of any political manoeuvring but instead indicates incompetence. All of this will tag it as ruffianism. If the government believes this to be a true account, they may bamboozle themselves. Smart asses will get this. Others will look back to the glorious shades of the past.


[1] Chapter – 7, Crime against Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes available at http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2015/chapters/Chapter%207-15.11.16.pdf

[2] Art. 21, Constitution of India, 1950.

[3] DR. SUBHASH KASHINATH MAHAJAN v. THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA, 20 Mar. 2018 (SUpreme Court).

[4] Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

[5] Prevention OF Atrocities Act, 1989.

[6] Evaluation Of The Protection Of Civil Rights Act, 1955 And Its Impact On The Eradication Of Untouchability – A Study By The Centre For The Study Of Casteism, Communalism, The Law National Law School Of India University, Bangalore & Ministry For Social Justice And Empowerment.

[7] Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State Of Maharashtra, 05 May 2017.

[8] Safai Karamchari Andolan v. Union of India, (2014) 11 SCC 224.

[9] NHRC Report at http://nhrc.nic.in/Documents/Publications/reportKBSaxena.pdf

[10] https://niepmd.tn.nic.in/photo29.php?pageid=3

[11] National Campaign On D.H. Rights V. Union Of India & Ors., 15 Dec. 2016.

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