Marathas, Dalits fight over atrocities act, but cases filed on decline CASES REGISTERED UNDER THE ACT
The Maratha community and the state’s Dalits stand divided over the Atrocities Act, but official statistics tell a story of how fewer cases are being registered under the 25-yearold legislation that was introduced to redress caste-related exploitation.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data show the number of cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in Maharashtra has plummeted to 2,206 cases in 2014 from 4,756 recorded in 2010.
Sheer numbers indicate a simple drop in incidents, but Dalit activists see them with a subscript. They say the decline is because a majority of cases are going unrecorded, given the muscle power of the accused, their pull in the administrative 4,756 4,529 1,393 2,064 2,206
system and fear of social boycott.
“In a hundred incidents of atrocities, barely five or six get registered as cases,” said advocate Keval Uke, the general secretary of the National Dalit Movement for Justice. The act is in the news as its review and amendment is one of the main demands made by the Maratha community in its ongoing silent protest marches across the state.
The government has cleared the appointment of a Rajkot-based lawyer, who had defended the accused in the Gulberg Society massacre of the 2002 Gujarat riots, as part-time member to the Law Commission of India. Abhay Bhardwaj became the second controversial appointment after Satya Pal Jain, a former BJP parliamentarian from Chandigarh who was party leader LK Advani’s counsel in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case, was inducted in June.
Like Bhardwaj, Jain too is a parttime member and their appointments have drawn criticism. The Congress said the selections are part of a disappointing pattern. Party leader and former law minister Kapil Sibal accused the BJP-led government of “filling up important public positions with people of its own ideology”.