Government Wednesday is believed to have approved amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,which will give it more teeth by expanding its scope and providing for harsher punishment.
The amendments seek to strengthen certain existing provisions as also add new offences against SCs and STs so far not part of the 1989 law.
The amendments came up before the Union Cabinet today which is learnt to have given its nod to them.
Obstructing use of common resources such as wells,grounds and socially and economically boycotting SCs and STs have been included in the list of offences,sources said.
While so far denial of voting rights is an offence,the Cabinet has approved a proposal,which makes preventing SCs and STs from filing nominations for elections a separate crime.
National Advisory Council had recently lamented that “despite the deterrence assured by the Act,atrocities against these groups continue unabated and legal justice remains out of reach for a majority of victims largely because of poor implementation of the Act”.
The Council had observed that victims and witnesses confront hurdles at every stage of the legal process from registration,investigation and charge sheeting,to the trial stage. The conviction rates under the Act remain low.