19 Mar 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) Though grand in their intent the legislative measures for protection of vulnerable populations have become handicapped due to implementational bottlenecks. Comment, with special reference to SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

(150 Words/10 Marks)

The constitution of India provides for a welfare state that works for protection for the vulnerable population. In this light, the grand intent of legislations for protection of vulnerable sections can be seen from:

  1. Protective laws are vital to reverse the disabilities and discrimination based on caste hierarchies.

E.g., The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 aims to protect SC/STs from caste-based atrocities.

  1. Women empowerment:
    • Checking archaic and orthodox practices.

E.g., Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

    • Progressive legislations have the effect of opening the window of opportunities for women.

E.g., PoSH Act, 2013 aims to enable women to work without the fear of harassment.

    • Providing a safe environment within the domestic realm.

E.g., Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

  1. Enabling statutes are seminal in protecting those vulnerable section of the populace incapable of defending themselves against social ills.

E.g., POCSO Act, 2012; Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 to protect juveniles in conflict with law.

  1. Social legislations uphold the constitutional principles of human dignity (enshrined in the Preamble) and thereby gives life to the ideas of equality and sovereignty of individuals (citizens).

E.g., Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 to counter practices like untouchability which have a debilitating effect on the victims.

  1. The intent of such legislations is to create an all-encompassing and inclusive society promoting equity alongside equality.

E.g., enabling provisions of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Legislative measures/provisions to protect the vulnerable suffer from following implementational bottlenecks:

  1. Poor implementation of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989:
  2. Lack of political will and bureaucratic apathy/lethargy.

E.g., Karnataka HC cited that not even one of the two mandated statutory meeting to oversee the implementation of the Act was conducted by the government.

  1. Fear of social boycott and sanctions result in poor reporting under the legislation.
  2. Domination of caste factor in politics enhances impunity of preparators of atrocities.

E.g., recent incidence of an upper caste person urinating on a tribal.

  1. Lack of sensitisation in implementing authorities.
  2. Legal measures alone have limited impact in dealing with social ills.

E.g., Giving and accepting dowry continues under the garb of socio-cultural traditions.

  1. Challenges of exclusion and lack of awareness.

E.g., Informal sector not covered by the POSH Act; limited awareness about Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

  1. Non-adherence in letter and spirit.

E.g., SC noted that in about 96% of POCSO cases “support person” was not provided to the victim.

  1. The glaring gaps in the criminal justice system.

E.g., delay in trials, shoddy investigations etc., often leads to acquittal of accused.

  1. Delays in appointment of important constitutional functionaries.

E.g., NCBC functioning without vice chairman and members for more than a year.

In order to mainstream the vulnerable sections of the society it is necessary to build a robust architecture of social growth and security, through a partnership between society, private institutions, and government.

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