EVEN AS the Dalit community has started pouring out on the streets demanding stricter implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, the Maratha community leaders said on Wednesday they too favoured stricter implementation, but at the same time demanded that “fake complainants” should not go unpunished.
“If fake complainants are punished, the Act will be restored to its sanctity as it will deter those who intend to file wrong complaints. That’s why we too are demanding that the Atrocities Act should be implemented in letter and spirit and its blatant misuse should come to a halt. Let there be stricter implementation of the Act,” said Ajay Bhosale, regional president of Sambhaji Brigade.
Bhosale said after the silent march held in Pune, they set up committees at the district level to collect information regarding the complaints registered at different police stations under the Atrocities Act. “As per our primary information, out of every 100 cases filed 97 turned out to be fake complaints. This only reflects the rampant misuse of the Act and therefore we too are seeking proper and strict implementation of the Act,” he said.
In view of the rising false complaints, Bhosale said, the Maratha community wants the Atrocities Act amended to include the provision for punishment to those who file false complaints. “The punishment should be a stricter one like life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10 lakh. This will deter those intending to file false complaints and thereby protect the sanctity of the Act. We have already started raising this demand,” he said.
However, advocate Sushil Mancharkar said the demand of life imprisonment sounds unreasonable. “There is already a provision under IPC that if a false complaint is filed, the person wrongly accused can sue the complainant. Section 193 of the IPC clearly lays down that the punishment for false evidence is up to seven years. So the deterrence is already there and those wronged can seek justice from the courts,” he said.
In the past few days, the Dalit community like the Maratha community too has started holding “silent marches” in different parts of Maharashtra. So far, silent marches in Latur, Beed and Nanded have been held. All the marches were peaceful.
On October 23, the Dalit community will hold a conference to discuss the stricter implementation of the Atrocities Act.
The Dalit community leaders, however, are not calling the silent marches being organised as counter to the Maratha marches. They insist that their marches are only aimed at stricter implementation of the Atrocities Act. Manav Kamble, a Dalit leader said, “The Dalit community was wholeheartedly supporting the demands raised by the Maratha community. But the Dalit community is opposed to any demand for scrapping the Atrocities Act. The Dalit community wants the Act to be implemented strictly,” he said, while pointing out that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already said the Atrocities Act will not be scrapped. The Maratha community has already clarified that they were not in favouring of scrapping the Act.