Month before Harthas, Centre asked states to guard against inhuman treatment of SC/STsOctober 3, 2020
The directive was issued after the National Human Rights Commission took suo motu cognisance of alleged sexual exploitations of the vulnerable sections of the society and inaction by the police and civil authorities, officials said.
In a Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) issued on July 29, the Ministry of Home Affairs had cautioned against “inhuman treatment” meted to victims of crime involving women, children and the SC-ST communities.
Last month, a 20-year-old Dalit woman from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh was allegedly gangraped by four men. She died this week in a Delhi hospital, and her body was cremated by the UP Police allegedly without her family’s permission. Citing a forensic report, the police later denied that the victim was gangraped.
In the SOP, the home ministry had cited section 18A of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 (PoA Act) whereby conduct of preliminary enquiry before the registration of an FIR, or to seek the approval of any authority, prior to the arrest of an accused is no longer required. “The provision of the PoA Act may be implemented in letter and spirit,” it stated.
The PoA Act was first amended in 2015 to include offences such as tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts, which are derogatory to the dignity of some communities.
“Sensitise the law enforcement machinery through structured training programmes at all levels as well as other functionaries of the criminal justice system,” stated the SOP issued by the home ministry.
The Centre further suggested invoking of section 166A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, section 4 of the PoA Act, 1989, and section 21 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, for non-compliance by a public servant to act in terms of the directions in law.
About seeking reports from the UP government on the Hathras case, a home ministry official said the state government had set up a special investigation team and “the situation is being monitored”.
In 2018, the ministry had set up a separate division that monitors incidents of crime against women and children and advises states to strengthen measures for their safety, he added.