I have been in a state of constant mental turmoil over the current happenings in the nation. And at the top of the list is the ruling of the Supreme Court on the SC/ST Act and the widespread reactions from the masses.
It’s an extremely precarious situation to comment on, especially considering the fact that we all might not be in total awareness of, or possess all the details of, what really is happening and the possible repercussions for the masses concerned. Keeping aside this small disclaimer, there is something we do need to note.
No doubt the apex court passed a seemingly fair and just ruling – that too, in adherence to the principles enshrined in our Constitution – which calls for a chance for the accused to put forth their voices. The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was passed in 1989 “to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.”
No doubt the act did succeed, to some extent, in achieving what it intended originally. However, there have been several unfortunate cases of the “misuse” of the act in recent times. This has also led to the conviction of many innocent people.
The recent judgement by the Supreme Court seeks to dilute this act by proposing to hear the side of the accused in such complaints, so as to establish authenticity and to prevent potential misuse of the act.
This dilution seems like a fair idea at least from the perspective of the accused. But, another side of the decision holds a disastrous aspect wherein the voices of the oppressed are further muted. It’s possible that the marginalised Dalit community, which is already living on the fringes of the society, may be further suppressed. This possible repercussion has resulted in widespread protests from the Dalit community in the past few weeks.
In such a situation of unrest, one can only look forward to an all-encompassing judgement by the judiciary, hereby keeping in mind the claims and problems of all the sides that the decision affects.