The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

What does this law do?

This law does three things:

  • It punishes crimes against people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

  • It gives special protections and rights to victims.

  • It sets up courts for fast completion of cases.

What sorts of crimes are punished?

  • Some crimes under the IPC are given increased punishments under this law.

  • Cruel and degrading crimes that occur very often against SC/ST communities, such as forcing them to eat cowdung, boycotting them socially etc. More than 20 such acts are punished under this law.

Do you have to have a caste-based intention to be punished under this law?

That is, do you have to commit the crime because someone belongs to an SC/ST?

  • In most cases, a caste-based intention does not have to be proved. That is, it does not have to be proved that the accused person committed the crime for the reason that the victim belonged to a Scheduled Caste or Tribe. Only for three crimes, intention has to established.

Updated till Jan, 2017
The Scheduled Castes And The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989 [11th September, 1989] ACT NO. 33 OF 1989 An Act to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, to provide for Special Courts and the Exclusive Special Courts for the trial of such offences and for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Fortieth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—

1. Short title, extent and commencement.—

(1) This Act may be called the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
(3) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

Who does this law apply to?

This law applies to every person in India, except in Jammu and Kashmir.

2. Definitions.—

(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,— (a) "atrocity" means an offence punishable under section 3; (b) "Code" means the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974); ( bb) "dependent" means the spouse, children, parents, brother and sister of the victim, who are dependent wholly or mainly on such victim for his support and maintenance; ( bc) "economic boycott" means– (i) a refusal to deal with, work for hire or do business with other person; or (ii) to deny opportunities including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering service for consideration; or (iii) to refuse to do anything on the terms on which things would be commonly done in the ordinary course of business; or (iv) to abstain from the professional or business relations that one would maintain with other person; ( bd) "Exclusive Special Court" means the Exclusive Special Court established under sub-section (1) of section 14 exclusively to try the offences under this Act; ( be) "forest rights" shall have the meaning assigned to it in sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (2 of 2007); ( bf) "manual scavenger" shall have the meaning assigned to it in clause (g) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (25 of 2013); ( bg) "public servant" means a public servant as defined under section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), as well as any other person deemed to be a public servant under any other law for the time being in force and includes any person acting in his official capacity under the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be; (c) "Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes" shall have the meanings assigned to them respectively under clause (24) and clause (25) of article 366 of the Constitution; (d) "Special Court" means a Court of Session specified as a Special Court in section 14; (e) "Special Public Prosecutor" means a Public Prosecutor specified as a Special Public Prosecutor or an advocate referred to in section 15; (ea) "Schedule" means the Schedule appended to this Act; (eb) "social boycott" means a refusal to permit a person to render to other person or receive from him any customary service or to abstain from social relations that one would maintain with other person or to isolate him from others; (ec) "victim" means any individual who falls within the definition of the "Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes" under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 2, and who has suffered or experienced physical, mental, psychological, emotional or monetary harm or harm to his property as a result of the commission of any offence under this Act and includes his relatives, legal guardian and legal heirs; (ed) "witness" means any person who is acquainted with the facts and circumstances, or is in possession of any information or has knowledge necessary for the purpose of investigation, inquiry or trial of any crime involving an offence under this Act, and who is or may be required to give information or make a statement or produce any document during investigation, inquiry or trial of such case and includes a victim of such offence; (f) the words and expressions used but not defined in this Act and defined in the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872) or the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), as the case may be, shall be deemed to have the meanings respectively assigned to them in those enactments.
(2) Any reference in this Act to any enactment or any provision thereof shall, in relation to an area in which such enactment or such provision is not in force, be construed as a reference to the corresponding law, if any, in force in that area.
This section will define certain key terms that will be used repeatedly throughout the Act. Whenever these terms appear in this Act after this section, they will have the meanings that are explained here.

What is an atrocity?

A long list of actions is provided in Section 3. If any of these actions are committed against a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST), it is an atrocity which is punished under this law.These actions include forcing an SC/ST member to eat a noxious substance, forcing her to vote in a certain way, or taking away her land by force.

Who is a dependent?

This law directs the government to help victims of atrocities and their dependents in various ways. Dependents are family members of the victim, who receive support from her.

What is economic boycott?

Economic boycott is if someone refuses to enter into business relations with a SC/ST member. This includes:
  • Refusing to work with or refuse to hire an SC/ST member.
  • Refusing to either provide a service to an SC/ST member, or not engaging her to perform a service.
  • Changing the way a certain business transaction is normally done, because the person is an SC/ST member.

What are forest rights?

In the Forest Rights Act, there is a list of 13 rights that all forest-dwellers enjoy, including the right to live in the forest, access common resources etc.

Who is a 'manual scavenger'?

The Manual Scavengers Act, 2013 defines a manual scavenger as someone who manually handling human excreta from latrines, open drains or other open spaces.

Who is a public servant?

  • The Indian Penal Code has a long list of persons who are public servants, such as people in government service, judges and military officers.
  • If a person is called a public service in any other law, she will be considered a public servant under this law as well.
  • If a person is acting in any official capacity under the Central or State Government, she will be a public servant under this law.

What is a Scheduled Caste and a Scheduled Tribe?

According to the Constitution, the President issues a list of castes that are considered Scheduled Castes, for each state. This is done in consultation with the Governor of the state. A similar procedure is followed for Scheduled Tribes.

What is social boycott?

Social boycott is when someone refuses to enter into a normal social interaction with a person, and tries to keep her separate from other groups.

Who is a victim?

A victim is an SC/ST member who has suffered any kind of harm because of a crime committed under this Act. The harm can be mental or psychological as well as any kind of physical harm or loss of money. The relatives of such a victim are also considered to be victims under this law.

Who is a witness?

If you know something about a crime that has been committed under this law, you are a witness. You might be required to give evidence before the police or in court.

Application of laws:

Not all laws apply to all areas within India.
If... But... Then...
...this Act mentions a certain law ...that law does not apply in a particular area ...a similar law in force in that area will be applied instead

3. Punishments for offences of atrocities.—

(1) Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe,— (a) puts any inedible or obnoxious substance into the mouth of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or forces such member to drink or eat such inedible or obnoxious substance; (b) dumps excreta, sewage, carcasses or any other obnoxious substance in premises, or at the entrance of the premises, occupied by a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe; (c) with intent to cause injury, insult or annoyance to any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, dumps excreta, waste matter, carcasses or any other obnoxious substance in his neighbourhood; (d) garlands with footwear or parades naked or semi-naked a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe (e) forcibly commits on a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe any act, such as removing clothes from the person, forcible tonsuring of head, removing moustaches, painting face or body or any other similar act, which is derogatory to human dignity; (f) wrongfully occupies or cultivates any land, owned by, or in the possession of or allotted to, or notified by any competent authority to be allotted to, a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, or gets such land transferred; (g) wrongfully dispossesses a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interferes with the enjoyment of his rights, including forest rights, over any land or premises or water or irrigation facilities or destroys the crops or takes away the produce therefrom. Explanation.––For the purposes of clause (f) and this clause, the expression "wrongfully" includes— (A) against the person‘s will; (B) without the person‘s consent; (C) with the person‘s consent, where such consent has been obtained by putting the person, or any other person in whom the person is interested in fear of death or of hurt; or (D) fabricating records of such land; (h) makes a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to do "begar" or other forms of forced or bonded labour other than any compulsory service for public purposes imposed by the Government; (i) compels a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or to dig graves; (j) makes a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to do manual scavenging or employs or permits the employment of such member for such purpose; (k) performs, or promotes dedicating a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe woman to a deity, idol, object of worship, temple, or other religious institution as a devadasi or any other similar practice or permits aforementioned acts; (l) forces or intimidates or prevents a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe— (A) not to vote or to vote for a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law; (B) not to file a nomination as a candidate or to withdraw such nomination; or (C) not to propose or second the nomination of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe as a candidate in any election; (m) forces or intimidates or obstructs a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, who is a member or a Chairperson or a holder of any other office of a Panchayat under Part IX of the Constitution or a Municipality under Part IXA of the Constitution, from performing their normal duties and functions; (n) after the poll, causes hurt or grievous hurt or assault or imposes or threatens to impose social or economic boycott upon a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or prevents from availing benefits of any public service which is due to him; (o) commits any offence under this Act against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe for having voted or not having voted for a particular candidate or for having voted in a manner provided by law; (p) institutes false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe; (q) gives any false or frivolous information to any public servant and thereby causes such public servant to use his lawful power to the injury or annoyance of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe; (r) intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view; (s) abuses any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe by caste name in any place within public view; (t) destroys, damages or defiles any object generally known to be held sacred or in high esteem by members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes. Explanation.––For the purposes of this clause, the expression "object" means and includes statue, photograph and portrait; (u) by words either written or spoken or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise promotes or attempts to promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will against members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes; (v) by words either written or spoken or by any other means disrespects any late person held in high esteem by members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes; (w) - (i) intentionally touches a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, knowing that she belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, when such act of touching is of a sexual nature and is without the recipient‘s consent; (ii) uses words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature towards a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, knowing that she belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe. Explanation.––For the purposes of sub-clause (i), the expression "consent" means an unequivocal voluntary agreement when the person by words, gestures, or any form of non-verbal communication, communicates willingness to participate in the specific act: Provided that a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe who does not offer physical resistance to any act of a sexual nature is not by reason only of that fact, is to be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity: Provided further that a woman‘s sexual history, including with the offender shall not imply consent or mitigate the offence; (x) corrupts or fouls the water of any spring, reservoir or any other source ordinarily used by members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes so as to render it less fit for the purpose for which it is ordinarily used; (y) denies a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe any customary right of passage to a place of public resort or obstructs such member so as to prevent him from using or having access to a place of public resort to which other members of public or any other section thereof have a right to use or access to; (z) forces or causes a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to leave his house, village or other place of residence: Provided that nothing contained in this clause shall apply to any action taken in discharge of a public duty; (za) obstructs or prevents a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any manner with regard to— (A) using common property resources of an area, or burial or cremation ground equally with others or using any river, stream, spring, well, tank, cistern, water-tap or other watering place, or any bathing ghat, any public conveyance, any road, or passage; (B) mounting or riding bicycles or motor cycles or wearing footwear or new clothes in public places or taking out wedding procession, or mounting a horse or any other vehicle during wedding processions; (C) entering any place of worship which is open to the public or other persons professing the same religion or taking part in, or taking out, any religious, social or cultural processions including jatras; (D) entering any educational institution, hospital, dispensary, primary health centre, shop or place of public entertainment or any other public place; or using any utensils or articles meant for public use in any place open to the public; or (E) practicing any profession or the carrying on of any occupation, trade or business or employment in any job which other members of the public, or any section thereof, have a right to use or have access to; (zb) causes physical harm or mental agony of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe on the allegation of practicing witchcraft or being a witch; or (zc) imposes or threatens a social or economic boycott of any person or a family or a group belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.
(2) Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe,— (i) gives or fabricates false evidence intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to be convicted of an offence which is capital by the law for the time being in force shall be punished with imprisonment for life and with fine; and if an innocent member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe be convicted and executed in consequence of such false or fabricated evidence, the person who gives or fabricates such false evidence, shall be punished with death; (ii) gives or fabricates false evidence intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to be convicted of an offence which is not capital but punishable with imprisonment for a term of seven years or upwards, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to seven years or upwards and with fine; (iii) commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance intending to cause or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause damage to any property belonging to a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to seven years and with fine; (iv) commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance intending to cause or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause destruction of any building which is ordinarily used as a place of worship or as a place for human dwelling or as a place for custody of the property by a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine; (v) commits any offence under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more against a person or property knowing that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine; (va) commits any offence specified in the Schedule, against a person or property, knowing that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member, shall be punishable with such punishment as specified under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) for such offences and shall also be liable to fine; (vi) knowingly or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed under this Chapter, causes any evidence of the commission of that offence to disappear with the intention of screening the offender from legal punishment, or with that intention gives any information respecting the offence which he knows or believes to be false, shall be punishable with the punishment provided for that offence; or (vii) being a public servant, commits any offence under this section, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to the punishment provided for that offence.

What are the crimes under this law?

  • This section punishes certain crimes against SC/ST members, which are listed below.
  • No SC/ST member can be punished under this section.
  • The following crimes have a minimum punishment of 6 months and a maximum of 5 years, plus fine:
It is a crime to force-feed an SC/ST member with any disgusting substance that is not fit for humans to eat, such as cowdung,
It is a crime to dump any disgusting substances (such as the bodies of dead animals, or excreta):
  • Inside or at the gate of a place where SC/ST members live.
  • In a neighbourhood of an SC/ST member, but only if it is done to insult or annoy her in some way.
It is a crime to make an SC/ST member wear a garland of chappals, or make them walk around naked or semi-naked.
It is a crime to force an SC/ST member to do anything which is insulting to the dignity of a human being, such as:
  • making him undress;
  • forcing him to shave his head or his moustache; or
  • forcing him to paint his face.
It is a crime to illegally take over any land that is owned or controlled by, or allotted to any SC/ST member. The takeover is considered illegal if it is done
  • without the agreement of the victim, or
  • by threatening him or someone connected to him, or
  • by making false records.
It is also a crime to similarly illegally deprive an SC/ST member of his property, or to prevent him from exercising his rights over any land. This includes:
  • Blocking an SC/ST member from accessing any forest rights under the Forest Rights Act.
  • Blocking rights to any water source or irrigation source.
  • Destroying or taking away crops.
It is a crime to make an SC/ST member do bonded labour. The exception will be if the government makes some kind of public service compulsory - in that case it will not be a crime.
It is a crime to force a SC/ST member to carry or dispose of a human or animal dead body.
It is crime to force an SC/ST member to do manual scavenging, or employ an SC/ST member to do manual scavenging.
Practices like devadasi are a crime - an SC/ST woman cannot be 'dedicated' to any god, idol or temple.
It is a crime to interfere with the voting rights of an SC/ST member. Specifically:
  • An SC/ST member cannot be forced to vote in a certain way.
  • An SC/ST member cannot be stopped from standing for elections.
  • An SC/ST member cannot be stopped from proposing a candidate, or seconding the nomination of another SC/ST candidate.
It is a crime to interfere with the work of an SC/ST member who is a panchayat member or holds office in a municipality. Force or intimidation cannot be used to prevent such a person from doing their work.
It is a crime to either hurt or boycott an SC/ST member.
If you commit a crime against an SC/ST member because she has voted in a certain way, that is punished under this section.
It is a crime to file a false case against an SC/ST member.
It is a crime to give false information to a government official, if it causes the official to harass an SC/ST member.
It is a crime to insult and humiliate an SC/ST member on purpose, if it is done in a place visible to the public.
It is a crime to abuse an SC/ST member using her caste name if it is done in a place visible to the public.
It is a crime to damage any object, such as a statue or picture of Dr. Ambedkar, which is important to members of SCs/STs.
It is a crime to say or publish anything that encourages hatred of SC/ST communities.
It is a crime to say or write anything that insults any late person who is important to the SC/ST community, such as a leader.
It is a crime to sexually touch a woman belonging to a SC/ST without her consent. It is also a crime to sexually harass a SC/ST woman.
If such a crime takes place, the woman's past history and actions shall not affect the outcome in any way.
It is a crime to spoil any water source that is usually used by SC/ST members.
It is a crime to block an SC/ST member from a public place where she has a right to go.
It is a crime to block an SC/ST member from a public place where she has a right to go.
It is a crime to force an SC/ST member to leave her home, unless it is done legally.
It is a crime to block an SC/ST member from:
  • Using any common public area or resource such as water bodies, taps, wells, cremation grounds etc.
  • Riding a horse or a vehicle or taking out a procession.
  • Entering into a religious place or participating in a religious ceremony, that is open to the public.
  • Entering a public place like a school, hospital or cinema hall.
  • Carrying on any business or job.
It is a crime to accuse an SC/ST member of practicing witchcraft, and hurting them physically or mentally.
It is a crime to make a threat, or to actually practice social or economic boycott.
These are also crimes, but have different punishments:
Crime Jail time Fine
Making a false statement to the police, where:
  • An SC/ST member is accused of a crime punishable with death
Life imprisonment Yes
  • If the false statement causes the SC/ST member to be given the death penalty
Death sentence
  • If the SC/ST member is accused of a crime punishable with 7 years or more
Between 6 months and 7 years Yes
Using fire or bombs to
  • damage property belonging to SC/ST members
6 months to 7 years Yes
  • damage their homes or religious places
Life imprisonment Yes
Committing a crime against an SC/ST member, which is punished under the IPC with ten years or more. Life imprisonment Yes
Committing a crime against an SC/ST member which is listed in Schedule to this Act. As punished under the IPC Yes
Protecting any person who has committed a crime under this Act Same punishment as the crime which the person has committed
Any crime in this section, but by a government official Minimum of 1 year, not six months.

4. Punishment for neglect of duties.—

(1) Whoever, being a public servant but not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, wilfully neglects his duties required to be performed by him under this Act and the rules made thereunder, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year.
(2) The duties of public servant referred to in sub-section (1) shall include–– (a) to read out to an informant the information given orally, and reduced to writing by the officer in charge of the police station, before taking the signature of the informant; (b) to register a complaint or a First Information Report under this Act and other relevant provisions and to register it under appropriate sections of this Act; (c) to furnish a copy of the information so recorded forthwith to the informant; (d) to record the statement of the victims or witnesses; (e) to conduct the investigation and file charge sheet in the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court within a period of sixty days, and to explain the delay if any, in writing; (f) to correctly prepare, frame and translate any document or electronic record; (g) to perform any other duty specified in this Act or the rules made thereunder: Provided that the charges in this regard against the public servant shall be booked on the recommendation of an administrative enquiry.
(3) The cognizance in respect of any dereliction of duty referred to in sub-section (2) by a public servant shall be taken by the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court and shall give direction for penal proceedings against such public servant.

Can a government official be punished for ignoring his duty?

If a government official (who is not an SC/ST member) ignores his duties under this law on purpose, he can be punished with six months to one year of jail time.An officer can only be charged if there has been an inquiry first that recommends it.These duties include:
  • registering FIRs and complaints;
  • reading out any statement made in a police station before getting a signature;
  • giving copies of the statement to the person giving information;
  • recording what a victim or witness of a crime has to say;
  • investigating and filing the charge-sheet within 60 days of an FIR;
  • preparing and translating documents correctly.

5. Enhanced punishment on subsequent conviction.—

Whoever, having already been convicted of an offence under this Chapter is convicted for the second offence or any offence subsequent to the second offence, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to the punishment provided for that offence.

What if a person commits the same crime twice?

If someone is found guilty for the second time for the same crime, the minimum punishment shall be 1 year, not six months.

6. Application of certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code.—

Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the provisions of section 34, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V, Chapter VA, section 149 and Chapter XXIII of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), shall, so far as may be, apply for the purposes of this Act as they apply for the purposes of the Indian Penal Code.
This section says that most of general criminal law will apply in cases of atrocities as well.

7. Forfeiture of property of certain persons.—

(1) Where a person has been convicted of any offence punishable under this Chapter, the Special Court may, in addition to awarding any punishment, by order in writing, declare that any property, movable or immovable or both, belonging to the person, which has been used for the commission of that offence, shall stand forfeited to Government.
(2) Where any person is accused of any offence under this Chapter, it shall be open to the Special Court trying him to pass an order that all or any of the properties, movable or immovable or both, belonging to him, shall, during the period of such trial, be attached, and where such trial ends in conviction, the property so attached shall be liable to forfeiture to the extent it is required for the purpose of realisation of any fine imposed under this Chapter.

What about a guilty person's property?

If a person is guilty, apart from jail and fine, her property can also be confiscated.

8. Presumption as to offences.—

In a prosecution for an offence under this Chapter, if it is proved that— (a) the accused rendered any financial assistance in relation to the offences committed by a person accused of, or reasonably suspected of, committing, an offence under this Chapter, the Special Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that such person had abetted the offence; (b) a group of persons committed an offence under this Chapter and if it is proved that the offence committed was a sequel to any existing dispute regarding land or any other matter, it shall be presumed that the offence was committed in furtherance of the common intention or in prosecution of the common object; (c) the accused was having personal knowledge of the victim or his family, the Court shall presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim, unless the contrary is proved.
This section deals with certain legal assumptions that a court makes. For example, if the accused person personally knows the victim, the court will assume that he also knows the caste or tribe of the victim.

9. Conferment of powers.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code or in any other provision of this Act, the State Government may, if it considers it necessary or expedient so to do,— (a) for the prevention of and for coping with any offence under this Act, or (b) for any case or class or group of cases under this Act, in any district or part thereof, confer, by notification in the Official Gazette, on any officer of the State Government, the powers exercisable by a police officer under the Code in such district or part thereof or, as the case may be, for such case or class or group of cases, and in particular, the powers of arrest, investigation and prosecution of persons before any Special Court.
(2) All officers of police and all other officers of Government shall assist the officer referred to in sub-section (1) in the execution of the provisions of this Act or any rule, scheme or order made thereunder.
(3) The provisions of the Code shall, so far as may be, apply to the exercise of the powers by an officer under sub-section (1).
This section deals with some special administrative powers to enforce this Act.

10. Removal of person likely to commit offence.—

(1) Where the Special Court is satisfied, upon a complaint or a police report that a person is likely to commit an offence under Chapter II of this Act in any area included in 'Scheduled Areas‘ or 'Tribal Areas‘, as referred to in article 244 of the Constitution, or any area identified under the provisions of clause (vii) of sub-section (2) of section 21, it may, by order in writing, direct such person to remove himself beyond the limits of such area, by such route and within such time as may be specified in the order, and not to return to that area from which he was directed to remove himself for such period, not exceeding three years, as may be specified in the order.
(2) The Special Court shall, along with the order under sub-section (1), communicate to the person directed under that sub-section the grounds on which such order has been made.
(3) The Special Court may revoke or modify the order made under sub-section (1), for the reasons to be recorded in writing, on the representation made by the person against whom such order has been made or by any other person on his behalf within thirty days from the date of the order.
If the court thinks a person is likely to commit a crime under this law, it can order that the person move out of that area for up to three years. This is called externment.Example:Mukesh lives in Safinagar town, where caste tensions are high. He is from a dominant caste. Safinagar has been notified as an area where atrocities are likely to happen. He makes several threats against his neighbour, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste. Cases have been registered against him. The court, under this law, can order that Mukesh leave Safinagar for three years.The court must give reasons why Mukesh has been ordered to leave.Mukesh comes before the court to explain his situation, within 30 days. The court can decide to cancel the order, or change it.

11. Procedure on failure of person to remove himself from area and enter thereon after removal.—

(1) If a person to whom a direction has been issued under section 10 to remove himself from any area— (a) fails to remove himself as directed; or (b) having so removed himself enters such area within the period specified in the order, otherwise than with the permission in writing of the Special Court under sub-section (2), the Special Court may cause him to be arrested and removed in police custody to such place outside such area as the Special Court may specify.
(2) The Special Court may, by order in writing, permit any person in respect of whom an order under section 10 has been made, to return to the area from which he was directed to remove himself for such temporary period and subject to such conditions as may be specified in such order and may require him to execute a bond with or without surety for the due observation of the conditions imposed.
(3) The Special Court may at any time revoke any such permission.
(4) Any person who, with such permission, returns to the area from which he was directed to remove himself shall observe the conditions imposed, and at the expiry of the temporary period for which he was permitted to return, or on the revocation of such permission before the expiry of such temporary period, shall remove himself outside such area and shall not return thereto within the unexpired portion specified under section 10 without a fresh permission.
(5) If a person fails to observe any of the conditions imposed or to remove himself accordingly or having so removed himself enters or returns to such area without fresh permission the Special Court may cause him to be arrested and removed in police custody to such place outside such area as the Special Court may specify.
If Mukesh does not obey the court order, he can be arrested. The punishment is up to 1 year jail time.If Mukesh obeys the order, the court can allow him come back to Safinagar for short periods, after signing a bond.Mukesh can only stay in Safinagar for the short period mentioned in the order, and must get fresh permission to visit again. If he disobeys he can be arrested.

12. Taking measurements and photographs, etc., of persons against whom order under section 10 is made.—

(1) Every person against whom an order has been made under section 10 shall, if so required by the Special Court, allow his measurements and photographs to be taken by a police officer.
(2) If any person referred to in sub-section (1), when required to allow his measurements or photographs to be taken, resists or refuses to allow the taking of such measurements or photographs, it shall be lawful to use all necessary means to secure the taking thereof.
(3) Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements or photographs under sub-section (2) shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
(4) Where an order under section 10 is revoked, all measurements and photographs (including negatives) taken under sub-section (2) shall be destroyed or made over to the person against whom such order is made.
The court can order Mukesh to be photographed, and have his measurements taken. If he refuses, he can be forced. Once an order is cancelled, the photos and other records will have to be destroyed.

13. Penalty for non compliance of order under section 10.—

Any person contravening an order of the Special Court made under section 10 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine.
If Mukesh disobeys the court order, he can be sent to jail for up to 1 year.

14. Special Court and Exclusive Special Court.—

(1) For the purpose of providing for speedy trial, the State Government shall, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, by notification in the Official Gazette, establish an Exclusive Special Court for one or more Districts: Provided that in Districts where less number of cases under this Act is recorded, the State Government shall, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify for such Districts, the Court of Session to be a Special Court to try the offences under this Act: Provided further that the Courts so established or specified shall have power to directly take cognizance of offences under this Act.
(2) It shall be the duty of the State Government to establish adequate number of Courts to ensure that cases under this Act are disposed of within a period of two months, as far as possible.
(3) In every trial in the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court, the proceedings shall be continued from day-to-day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded in writing: Provided that when the trial relates to an offence under this Act, the trial shall, as far as possible, be completed within a period of two months from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
This chapter of the law deals with setting up of special courts to deal with atrocities cases faster.
  • Every State Government has to set up courts which only deals with atrocities cases under this law.
  • Cases should be completed in 2 months, as far as possible, and hearings shall take place every day when witnesses are speaking.
  • In a district where a lot of atrocities cases happen, a separate court will have to be set up.
  • In districts where cases are not so common, the District Court can hear the case.

14A. Appeals.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 (2 of 1974), an appeal shall lie, from any judgment, sentence or order, not being an interlocutory order, of a Special Court or an Exclusive Special Court, to the High Court both on facts and on law.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (3) of section 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), an appeal shall lie to the High Court against an order of the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court granting or refusing bail.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, every appeal under this section shall be preferred within a period of ninety days from the date of the judgment, sentence or order appealed from: Provided that the High Court may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal within the period of ninety days: Provided further that no appeal shall be entertained after the expiry of the period of one hundred and eighty days.
(4) Every appeal preferred under sub-section (1) shall, as far as possible, be disposed of within a period of three months from the date of admission of the appeal.
Example: Satish forces Naveen to eat cowdung. Trial starts against Satish.If he is given bail, the Government's lawyer (prosecutor) can appeal against the bail. He does not need special permission from the High Court to do so.He is found guilty by the Special Court. Satish has to appeal to the High Court within 90 days.Satish's mother fell seriously ill and his appeal could not be filed within the deadline. The High Court can still allow him file the appeal, since he had a good reason.However, if more than 180 days have passed, the appeal will not be allowed.The High Court should do its best to hear Satish's appeal within 3 months from when he filed it.

15. Special Public Prosecutor and Exclusive Public Prosecutor.—

(1) For every Special Court, the State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify a Public Prosecutor or appoint an advocate who has been in practice as an advocate for not less than seven years, as a Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases in that Court.
(2) For every Exclusive Special Court, the State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify an Exclusive Special Public Prosecutor or appoint an advocate who has been in practice as an advocate for not less than seven years, as an Exclusive Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases in that Court.
The Government's lawyer, under this law, has to have minimum seven years' experience.

15A. Rights of victims and witnesses.—

(1) 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.
(2) A victim shall be treated with fairness, respect and dignity and with due regard to any special need that arises because of the victim‘s age or gender or educational disadvantage or poverty.
(3) A victim or his dependent shall have the right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any Court proceeding including any bail proceeding and the Special Public Prosecutor or the State Government shall inform the victim about any proceedings under this Act.
(4) A victim or his dependent shall have the right to apply to the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court, as the case may be, to summon parties for production of any documents or material, witnesses or examine the persons present.
(5) A victim or his dependent shall be entitled to be heard at any proceeding under this Act in respect of bail, discharge, release, parole, conviction or sentence of an accused or any connected proceedings or arguments and file written submission on conviction, acquittal or sentencing.
(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court trying a case under this Act shall provide to a victim, his dependent, informant or witnesses–– (a) the complete protection to secure the ends of justice; (b) the travelling and maintenance expenses during investigation, inquiry and trial; (c) the social-economic rehabilitation during investigation, inquiry and trial; and (d) relocation.
(7) The State shall inform the concerned Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court about the protection provided to any victim or his dependent, informant or witnesses and such Court shall periodically review the protection being offered and pass appropriate orders.
(8) Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of sub-section (6), the concerned Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court may, on an application made by a victim or his dependent, informant or witness in any proceedings before it or by the Special Public Prosecutor in relation to such victim, informant or witness or on its own motion, take such measures including–– (a) concealing the names and addresses of the witnesses in its orders or judgments or in any records of the case accessible to the public; (b) issuing directions for non-disclosure of the identity and addresses of the witnesses; (c) take immediate action in respect of any complaint relating to harassment of a victim, informant or witness and on the same day, if necessary, pass appropriate orders for protection: Provided that inquiry or investigation into the complaint received under clause (c) shall be tried separately from the main case by such Court and concluded within a period of two months from the date of receipt of the complaint: Provided further that where the complaint under clause (c) is against any public servant, the Court shall restrain such public servant from interfering with the victim, informant or witness, as the case may be, in any matter related or unrelated to the pending case, except with the permission of the Court.
(9) It shall be the duty of the Investigating Officer and the Station House Officer to record the complaint of victim, informant or witnesses against any kind of intimidation, coercion or inducement or violence or threats of violence, whether given orally or in writing, and a photocopy of the First Information Report shall be immediately given to them at free of cost.
(10) All proceedings relating to offences under this Act shall be video recorded.
(11) It shall be the duty of the concerned State to specify an appropriate scheme to ensure implementation of the following rights and entitlements of victims and witnesses in accessing justice so as–– (a) to provide a copy of the recorded First Information Report at free of cost; (b) to provide immediate relief in cash or in kind to atrocity victims or their dependents; (c) to provide necessary protection to the atrocity victims or their dependents, and witnesses; (d) to provide relief in respect of death or injury or damage to property; (e) to arrange food or water or clothing or shelter or medical aid or transport facilities or daily allowances to victims; (f) to provide the maintenance expenses to the atrocity victims and their dependents; (g) to provide the information about the rights of atrocity victims at the time of making complaints and registering the First Information Report; (h) to provide the protection to atrocity victims or their dependents and witnesses from intimidation and harassment; (i) to provide the information to atrocity victims or their dependents or associated organisations or individuals, on the status of investigation and charge sheet and to provide copy of the charge sheet at free of cost; (j) to take necessary precautions at the time of medical examination; (k) to provide information to atrocity victims or their dependents or associated organisations or individuals, regarding the relief amount; (l) to provide information to atrocity victims or their dependents or associated organisations or individuals, in advance about the dates and place of investigation and trial; (m) to give adequate briefing on the case and preparation for trial to atrocity victims or their dependents or associated organisations or individuals and to provide the legal aid for the said purpose; (n) to execute the rights of atrocity victims or their dependents or associated organisations or individuals at every stage of the proceedings under this Act and to provide the necessary assistance for the execution of the rights.
(12) It shall be the right of the atrocity victims or their dependents, to take assistance from the Non-Government Organisations, social workers or advocates.

If you are a victim or witness under this law, what are your rights?

Let's understand these rights with the help of examples.
Naveen has been forced to eat cowdung by Satish. Naveen belongs to a Scheduled Caste. Seema saw it happen. The government has to arrange for Naveen and Seema's protection.
Naveen is 80 years old - the government has a duty to give special care to Naveen.
Naveen and his wife have the right to know what is going on in his case.
Nitin took a photograph while Naveen was being forced to eat cowdung. Naveen can ask the court to order Nitin to come to court and submit the photograph.
Naveen can speak in court to the judge if Satish, the accused person:
  • is being released on bail, or
  • is found 'not guilty'.
Naveen can also speak:
  • when Satish's jail time is being decided, or
  • when Satish is being released from jail.
During the trial, Naveen, the victim, and Seema, the witness, have the right to:
  • protection by the government, and
  • be paid by the government for any travel costs, moving costs or cost of living or finding a job.
The court will control what sort of protection is being given to Naveen and Seema.
Naveen or Seema can ask the Court to:
  • hide their names and addresses, or
  • take action against any harassment faced by them.
In case of harassment, a case has to be filed and the court has to finish the case in 2 months.
If the police or government official is harassing Naveen or Seema, the court can order that the official stay away from them.
Naveen and Seema are still being harassed. The police have the duty to file an FIR and give them a copy.
Any trial under this law has to be video-recorded.
Ever State Government has to prepare a scheme for the victims and witnesses of atrocities.
The scheme should take care of the following things:
  • Free copy of FIR, informing victims of their rights, and giving updates on the case;
  • Protection of victims;
  • Money, to be paid immediately to victims or close relatives ;
  • If a victim has died, been hurt or lost property, then money to provide support;
  • Money for food, water, housing, clothing, travel and medical help;
  • Legal support to victims.
Victims like Naveen have the right to get help from lawyers, NGOs and social workers.

16. Power of State Government to impose collective fine.—

The provisions of section 10A of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (22 of 1955) shall, so far as may be, apply for the purposes of imposition and realisation of collective fine and for all other matters connected therewith under this Act.
The State Government can impose a fine on a village as a whole for committing atrocities.

17. Preventive action to be taken by the law and order machinery.—

(1) A District Magistrate or a Sub-divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate or any police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police may, on receiving information and after such inquiry as he may think necessary, has reason to believe that a person or a group of persons not belonging to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, residing in or frequenting any place within the local limits of his jurisdiction is likely to commit an offence or has threatened to commit any offence under this Act and is of the opinion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding, declare such an area to be an area prone to atrocities and take necessary action for keeping the peace and good behaviour and maintenance of public order and tranquillity and may take preventive action.
(2) The provisions of Chapters VIII, X and XI of the Code shall, so far as may be, apply for the purposes of sub-section (1).
(3) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make one or more schemes specifying the manner in which the officers referred to in sub-section (1) shall take appropriate action specified in such scheme or schemes to prevent atrocities and to restore the feeling of security amongst the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

If an area has high risk of atrocities, what can the government do?

The District Magistrate or Deputy Superintendent can declare that the area is one where atrocities are likely to take place. After that, they can take a wide range of measures to ensure peace and order are maintained. This includes:
  • making people sign bonds for good behavior;
  • breaking up crowds using force; or
  • taking urgent measures under Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to prevent a danger or a nuisance.

18. Section 438 of the Code not to apply to persons committing an offence under the Act.—

Nothing in section 438 of the Code shall apply in relation to any case involving the arrest of any person on an accusation of having committed an offence under this Act.

Can a person fearing arrest under this law get anticipatory bail?

No.

19. Section 360 of the Code or the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act not to apply to persons guilty of an offence under the Act.—

The provisions of section 360 of the Code and the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 (20 of 1958) shall not apply to any person above the age of eighteen years who is found guilty of having committed an offence under this Act.

Can a person guilty under this law get probation?

Probation is when a guilty person is released instead of being sent to prison, after signing a bond for good behaviour. A person can get probation under general law if certain conditions are met. Under this law, however, probation is not allowed unless the guilty person is less than 18 years old.

20. Act to override other laws.—

Save as otherwise provided in this Act, the provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force or any custom or usage or any instrument having effect by virtue of any such law.
If there is anything written in this law that goes against some other law, this law will apply.

21. Duty of Government to ensure effective implementation of the Act.—

(1) Subject to such rules as the Central Government may make in this behalf, the State Government shall take such measures as may be necessary for the effective implementation of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, such measures may include,— (i) the provision for adequate facilities, including legal aid, to the persons subjected to atrocities to enable them to avail themselves of justice; (ii) the provision for travelling and maintenance expenses to witnesses, including the victims of atrocities, during investigation and trial of offences under this Act; (iii) the provision for the economic and social rehabilitation of the victims of the atrocities; (iv) the appointment of officers for initiating or exercising supervision over prosecutions for the contravention of the provisions of this Act; (v) the setting up of committees at such appropriate levels as the State Government may think fit to assist that Government in formulation or implementation of such measures; (vi) provision for a periodic survey of the working of the provisions of this Act with a view to suggesting measures for the better implementation of the provision of this Act; (vii) the identification of the areas where the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are likely to be subjected to atrocities and adoption of such measures so as to ensure safety for such members.
(3) The Central Government shall take such steps as may be necessary to co-ordinate the measures taken by the State Governments under sub-section (1).
(4) The Central Government shall, every year, place on the table of each House of Parliament a report on the measures taken by itself and by the State Governments in pursuance of the provisions of this section.

What are the duties of the Government under this law?

The government has to ensure this law is properly followed. Some of these measures are listed in this section.

22. Protection of action taken in good faith.—

No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Central Government or against the State Government or any officer or authority of Government or any other person for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act.
This is a standard section in many laws, which says that the government cannot be sued for doing anything under this law, as long as there was no bad intention.

23. Power to make rules.—

(1) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(2) Every rule made under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament, while it is in session for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.
This is also a standard section, which gives the procedure for making rules under this law.

THE SCHEDULE

[See section 3(2)(va)]
Section under the Indian Penal Code Name of offence and punishment
120A Definition of criminal conspiracy.
120B Punishment of criminal conspiracy.
141 Unlawful assembly.
142 Being member of unlawful assembly.
143 Punishment for unlawful assembly.
144 Joining unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon.
145 Joining or continuing in unlawful assembly, knowing it has been commanded to disperse.
146 Rioting.
147 Punishment for rioting.
148 Rioting, armed with deadly weapon.
217 Public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture.
319 Hurt.
320 Grievous hurt.
323 Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt.
324 Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
325 Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt.
326B Voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid.
332 Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty.
341 Punishment for wrongful restraint.
354 Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.
354A Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment.
354B Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe.
354C Voyeurism.
354D Stalking.
359 Kidnapping.
363 Punishment for kidnapping.
365 Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person.
376B Sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation.
376C Sexual intercourse by a person in authority.
447 Punishment for criminal trespass.
506 Punishment for criminal intimidation.
509 Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.