ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Misconstruction of the Anti-atrocities Act’s Misuse

Drawing upon a study, this article examines whether the “final reports,” which is the official term for closed cases under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, are justified or not. The popularly accepted notion is that the act is misused by members of the Scheduled Castes against the upper castes, but there is no acknowledgement of its misuse by the upper castes using the former as proxy.

It is generally supposed that the legal proposition is to be accepted not because of ratione imperii, but imperio rationis (not by reason of power, but by power of reason). Pierre Bourdieu points out that it is difficult to find pure reason or pure power. Therefore, sometimes, people have to obey the court for the simple reason that they have to. Therecent Supreme Court judgment (Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v The State of Maharashtra 2018) is the culmination of a discourse that portrayed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (PoA) Act, 1989 as more misused than used. The judgment in the case has relied on three other high court judgments (supposed to be illustrative and not exhaustive) and the National Crime Records Bureaus (NCRB) Crime in India 2016 report. It does not quote any other government or academic study on the misuse of the act. If the NCRB data on false cases is proved to be irrelevant, which this article will try to do, then the judgment is relying on pure judicial acknowledgements. This is in stark contrast to the judgment on reservation in promotion (M Nagaraj & Others v Union of India & Others 2006) which in its conclusion emphasises the importance of statistics.

The State is not bound to make reservation for SC/ST in matter of promotions. However if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335. (emphasis added)

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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