Deeptiman Tiwary, TNN | Oct 16, 2013
NEW DELHI: The recent acquittal of all accused in the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre case is not an isolated example of justice denied to dalits. In terms of conviction rate in cases of crimes against Scheduled Castes, the national average is quite disappointing, with Bihar among the bottom rankers.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, while the national conviction rate for overall IPC crimes stood at 38.5%, it was only 23.9% in case of crimes against SCs, suggesting Bihar is not an exception in denying justice to dalits.
However, the eastern state is certainly among the worst. Conviction rate for crimes against SCs in Bihar stood at 12.4% even though conviction rate for overall IPC crimes in the state was 15.9%. Bihar is among the states with maximum number of crimes against dalits (4,821); next only to UP and Rajasthan.
Interestingly, UP, which had maximum number of cases of crimes against SCs (6,202) in 2012 had the best conviction rate among big states. Its conviction rate in such cases was 51.4%, next only to Sikkim (66.7%) and Uttarakhand (54.5%). However, both states have low populations, very few such cases and hardly any caste conflicts in their society.
Rajasthan, which had the second-highest number of crimes against SCs (5,559), had a conviction rate of 41%, more than three times that of Bihar. Even MP with 2,875 such cases had a conviction rate of 35.3%. Only Andhra Pradesh (9.1%), Odisha (6.3%) and Karnataka (4.8%) among states with more than 2,000 cases of crimes against SCs had a worse conviction rate than Bihar. In the category of crimes under Prevention of Atrocities against SCs and STs Act, the performance of the justice system was even worse. The national conviction rate in these cases was merely 18.8%, worse than the national average for overall crimes against SCs (23.9%). However, analysts said while the issue of justice denied to dalits was a serious one and the data on overall crimes against SCs in terms of conviction rate only proved the point, the corresponding numbers for Atrocities Act must be taken with a pinch of salt. “In this category, it has often been seen that a lot of false cases are registered which ultimately fall flat in court. Several times, dalits become pawns in the fight between two upper caste landlords in a village and file false cases,” said a senior IPS officer.