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Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

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Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 has been able to prevent a wide range of offenses against both Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. There are special courts that have been established under the act, for working to protect the rights as well as the privileges of the victims and also for providing relief. Both the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have come to emerge as one of the most progressive communities at present in India due to many reforms in educational, economic as well as social forms of empowerment.

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989

The Constitution generally attempts to guarantee Social and Cultural Justice to marginalized groups. The government has outlined many plans and approaches for them and put forth attempts to advance them. Reservation is one of them, which assumes a significant part in giving social justice to Dalits and Adivasis. Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims, and women go under marginal groups. These groups experience inequality and discrimination at each level in the public. As this hurts them, they need to emerge from this. They frequently challenge existing inequalities. They contend that essentially by being citizens of a democratic country, they possess equivalent freedoms that should be regarded. Large numbers of them admire the Constitution to address their concerns.

The Constitution gives Fundamental Rights which are accessible to all Indians similarly, including marginalized groups. But as the marginalized groups neglect to appreciate equivalent rights, they demand the government uphold laws. The government, thus, frames new laws with regard to the soul of Fundamental Rights. Our Constitution states that no resident of India will be victimized based on religion, race, position, sex, or place of birth. This has been utilized by Dalits to look for inequality where it has been denied to them. There are explicit laws and policies for the marginalized in our country. The government sets up a committee and tries to promote such policies to give opportunities to special groups. The government attempts to promote social justice by providing free or subsidized hostels for students of Dalit and Adivasi communities. The Government’s reservation policy is an exceptionally critical work to end inequality in society.

Governments across the country have their own list of SCs or Dalits, STs, and backward and most backward castes. The central government has also its list. If a particular Dalit caste or a specific tribe is on the government list, then a person from that caste or tribe can avail the advantage of reservation. Besides many policies,  there are specific laws to safeguard the rights of marginalized communities. For the protection of Dalits, the government has outlined The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act which came into effect in 1989 to safeguard Dalits and Adivasis from the domination of the strong communities.

Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

The fundamental goal of the reservation system in India is to work on the social and educational status of backward sections and subsequently improve their way of life thus preventing any atrocities against them. Because of the incapability of the Protection of the civil rights act and the Indian penal code, the ‘Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act’ in 1989 came into existence.

Salient Features

  • Formation of new types of offenses that are neither present in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) nor in the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955.
  • It prevents crimes against individuals belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
  • It vests exceptional protection and rights to marginalized groups.
  • It makes Special Courts and special public investigators for speedier completion of cases.
  • Punishment for the public worker (non-SC/ST) who neglects his/her duties.
  • Refusal of anticipatory bail.
  • Gives compensation, relief, and restoration to victims of atrocities or their legitimate beneficiaries.
  • Mandatory and occasional monitoring of Crimes at the District, State, and National levels.
  • Recognizing atrocity-prone zones.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice is the nodal ministry to implement the provisions of the Act.

Several Levels of Crimes in this Act

First and foremost, it lists methods of embarrassment that are physically terrible and ethically unforgivable and looks to punish the people who

  • Force an individual from a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or disagreeable substance.
  • Forcibly takes off garments of an individual from a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or marches that person naked or with painted face or body or commits any similar act which is slanderous to human dignity.
  • The Act decides to punish any individual who illegitimately occupies or cultivates any land owned by, or allowed to an individual from a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or gets the land allotted to him transferred.
  • Assaults or forces any woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with the intent to disrespect her.

SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018

  • The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018.
  • The Amendment Act invalidated the Court’s 20th March 2018 judgment which had weakened the provisions of the original Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  • Petitions were filed against the 2018 Amendment Act on the grounds of infringement of the fundamental right to equality (Article 14) and individual liberty (Article 21).

Salient Features of the Amendment Act, 2018 

  • It added Section 18A to the first Act which states that,
    • For the Prevention of Atrocities Act, a preliminary inquiry will not be needed for the registration of a First Information Report against any individual.
    • The provision of section 438 (pre-arrest bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) shall not have any significant bearing on a case under the Act.
  • It portrays specific punishments against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as atrocities and depicts methodologies and endorses punishments to counter these acts.
  • It identifies what acts constitute “atrocities” and all offenses listed in the Act are cognizable. The police can arrest the wrongdoer without a warrant and start an investigation into the case without taking any orders from the court.
  • Power of Special Courts to take perception of offense and completion of preliminary in 2 months. Expansion of part on the ‘Rights of Victims and Witnesses’.
  • Supreme Court also decided that prior to arresting a public servant under the Act, a preliminary investigation by an official not beneath the position of deputy superintendent is a must.

Drawbacks and lacunae Bias

  • Going through the Indian legal system is debasing for any Dalit because of the still-existing biases of the court judges.
  • Most of the reports are of what is done after an atrocity has been committed. Few states have preventive measures set up.
  • The high pace of rejection is also prevalent at the police station level.

Related Articles

  1. National Commission for Scheduled Castes
  2. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
  3. Caste Based Census
  4. Caste System Assuming New Identities

FAQs on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Q 1. What is the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989?


Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 refers to the prevention of the commission of offenses from the tribulations against the members of both Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, for providing Special Courts for the trial of such offenses and for rehabilitation of victims.

Q 2. What are the crimes for SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 deals with?


The crimes which are offenses punishable include hurt, grievous hurt, kidnapping, etc.

Q 3. Why was the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 framed?


The Act was framed for the prevention of atrocities and for helping in the social inclusion of Dalits into society.

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Last Updated : 20 May, 2023
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