Managing perceptions: on amending the SC/ST Act

 

Managing perceptions: on amending the SC/ST Act

From the viewpoint of pragmatism, the Centre had no choice but to amend the SC/ST Act

If we accept that politics is about pragmatism(हस्तक्षेप/व्यावहारिकता), about managing(प्रबंध/किफ़ायती) perceptions(धारणाओं/अनुभूति), about defusing(को कम करने) difficult situations(परिस्थिति/दशा), and keeping a sharp(तेज़) eye out on the prevailing(प्रचलित/विद्यमान) political winds, then the Union Cabinet’s decision to amend(संशोधन/सुधरना) the provisions(प्रावधानों) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities(अत्याचार/अतिदुष्ट व्यवहार)) Act appears(रूप लेना/निकलना) both reasonable(उचित/वाजिब) and unavoidable(अनिवार्य/अपरिहार्य). It is arguable(विवाद-योग्य that no dispensation(छूट/व्यवस्था) at the Centre could have ignored the massive(बड़ा/विशाल) Scheduled Caste protests against the Supreme Court verdict(निर्णय/मत) that was perceived(माना जाता है/देखना ) as diluting(कम करना) the provisions of the 1989 law. With the call for a nationwide shutdown on August 9, one that an NDA constituent(निर्वाचक/घटक), the Lok Janshakti Party led by Ram Vilas Paswan, had threatened(धमकी देना/भरूर्सना देना) to join, the Centre was goaded(अंकुश लगाना/प्रेरित करना)into acting quickly. The proposed amendments are aimed at undoing three new rules laid down by the court: that the bar on anticipatory bail under the Act need not prevent courts from granting advance bail if there is no merit in a complaint; that there can be an arrest only if the appointing authority (in the case of public servants) or the district superintendent of police (in the case of others) approves such arrest; and that there should be a preliminary inquiry into complaints. What they do is state that the bar on anticipatory(अग्रिम) bail(जमानत) will remain “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any court”, that there will be no need for a preliminary inquiry before an FIR is registered and that no approval is required before someone is arrested under the Act.

From the very beginning it was clear that the entire(संपूर्ण/समूचा) issue had less to do with the correctness(यथार्थता/शुद्धता) of the Supreme Court judgment and more to do with the way it was interpreted(व्याख्या की,/विवेचन करना), and sometimes deliberately(जान – बूझकर) misinterpreted(गलत व्याख्या की). The judgment had not altered or read down any of the key provisions of the Act. The Court was at pains to emphasise(जोर देने ) that it was only seeking to protect the innocent against arbitrary(मनमाना/एकपक्षीय) arrest and that there should be no denial(इनकार) of relief and compensation(नुकसान भरपाई) to SCs and STs, whose rights should be protected. While no one can object to procedural(प्रक्रियात्मक) safeguards against false accusations(आरोप/शिकायत), it is possible that the Court’s concerns about what it saw as misuse of the Act resulted(परिणामस्वरूप) in the perception that it was introducing norms to prevent quick action on complaints. It is arguably much more likely that such perceptions consolidate(मजबूत) at a time when the conviction(दोषसिद्धि/धारणा) rate under the Act is dismally(निराशाजनक/भयानक रूप में) low and atrocities(अत्याचारों/क्रूरता) against Dalits are a disturbing reality. It is vital that any law that is founded on punishing social ostracisation(बहिष्कार) maintains a fine balance between protecting the rights of the individual to a fair trial and enforcing not only the letter but also the spirit of a legislation that was introduced to protect the dignity of the disadvantaged(वंचित/हानि पहुंचाना), who have suffered unspeakably as a result of the abhorrent(घिनौना/घृणित) practice of social discrimination(भेदभाव/पक्षपात).

 

 

Important Vocabulary

1.Pragmatism(हस्तक्षेप/व्यावहारिकता)
Synonyms: disdain, airs, assumption, cockiness, conceit
Antonyms: humility, meekness, modesty, reality, realness

2.Atrocities(अत्याचार/अतिदुष्ट व्यवहार
Synonyms: barbarity, horror, atrociousness, barbarousness, enormity
Antonyms: good behavior, kindness, pleasantness, pleasantry

3.Dispensation(छूट/व्यवस्था)
Synonyms: disbursement, allotment, appointment, apportionment, award
Antonyms: disfavor, whole, denial, veto

4.Perceived(माना जाता है/देखना )
Synonyms: anticipated, recognized, felt, grasped, heard

5.Goaded(अंकुश लगाना/प्रेरित करना)
Synonyms: coerce, harass, hound, prod, provoke
Antonyms: leave alone, aid, block, bore, calm

6.Deliberately(जान – बूझकर)
Synonyms: consciously, knowingly, pointedly, purposely, studiously
Antonyms: indetermindedly, unintentionally, unwittingly

7.Arbitrary(मनमाना/एकपक्षीय)
Synonyms: capricious, discretionary, erratic, frivolous, inconsistent
Antonyms: consistent, definite, dependable, logical, reasonable

8.Accusations(आरोप/शिकायत),
Synonyms: allegation, complaint, denunciation, impeachment, indictment
Antonyms: approval, commendation, praise, compliment, flattery

9.Dismally(निराशाजनक/भयानक रूप में)
Synonyms: desperately, sadly, dispiritedly, cynically, darkly
Antonyms: confidently, expectantly, hopefully

10.Abhorrent(घिनौना/घृणित
Synonyms: despicable, loathsome, repulsive, detestable, execrable

 

 

Credit to the Hindu News Paper

If we accept that politics is about pragmatism, about managing perceptions, about defusing difficult situations, and keeping a sharp eye out on the prevailing political winds, then the Union Cabinet’s decision to amend the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act appears both reasonable and unavoidable. It is arguable that no dispensation at the Centre could have ignored the massive Scheduled Caste protests against the Supreme Court verdict that was perceived as diluting the provisions of the 1989 law. With the call for a nationwide shutdown on August 9, one that an NDA constituent, the Lok Janshakti Party led by Ram Vilas Paswan, had threatened to join, the Centre was goaded into acting quickly. The proposed amendments are aimed at undoing three new rules laid down by the court: that the bar on anticipatory bail under the Act need not prevent courts from granting advance bail if there is no merit in a complaint; that there can be an arrest only if the appointing authority (in the case of public servants) or the district superintendent of police (in the case of others) approves such arrest; and that there should be a preliminary inquiry into complaints. What they do is state that the bar on anticipatory bail will remain “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any court”, that there will be no need for a preliminary inquiry before an FIR is registered and that no approval is required before someone is arrested under the Act.

From the very beginning it was clear that the entire issue had less to do with the correctness of the Supreme Court judgment and more to do with the way it was interpreted, and sometimes deliberately misinterpreted. The judgment had not altered or read down any of the key provisions of the Act. The Court was at pains to emphasise that it was only seeking to protect the innocent against arbitrary arrest and that there should be no denial of relief and compensation to SCs and STs, whose rights should be protected. While no one can object to procedural safeguards against false accusations, it is possible that the Court’s concerns about what it saw as misuse of the Act resulted in the perception that it was introducing norms to prevent quick action on complaints. It is arguably much more likely that such perceptions consolidate at a time when the conviction rate under the Act is dismally low and atrocities against Dalits are a disturbing reality. It is vital that any law that is founded on punishing social ostracisation maintains a fine balance between protecting the rights of the individual to a fair trial and enforcing not only the letter but also the spirit of a legislation that was introduced to protect the dignity of the disadvantaged, who have suffered unspeakably as a result of the abhorrent practice of social discrimination.

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