SCs/STs: Is Ingratitude Striking Back?

November 8, 2021

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” – Mark Twain (1835-1910). Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humourist, publisher and lecturer.

Our constitution makers had great concern for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). They admitted the historic wrongs done by higher castes against SCs/STs and included constitutional provisions to extend special protection for them and along the way passed laws and rules to back up the constitutional promises. But, seven decades after the Constitution came into force followed by laws and rules to reinforce the Constitutional provisions. Now there seems to be a rebound and disenchantment on the subject.

Edmund Burke, the famous British parliamentarian, once said in the House of Commons that what should have been rare medicine has become daily bread. The resort to protective legislation is being sometimes misused to blackmail against citizens at large to such an extent that even the higher judiciary have shown their impatience and annoyance on misuse of protective laws and rules to the disadvantage of non-SC/ST citizens. A recent media report in a case where Chief Justice Ramana headed the SC Bench said: “Where it appears to the court the offence in question, although covered under SC/ST Act, is primarily private and civil in nature, or where alleged offence has been committed on account of the caste of the victim, or where the continuation of the legal proceedings would be an abuse of the process of law the court can exercise its powers to quash the proceedings.

In another related judgment delivered recently by Karnataka High Court held that an offence under Section 3 of the CS/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act cannot be invoked in a charge-sheet merely because the alleged victim of the crime belongs to a Scheduled Caste or is a Scheduled Tribe. Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar elaborated: “It is not as though in every crime, the victim happens to be a member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, an offence under Section 3 of the Act has been committed. If the motive for crime is not casteist, the accused can be charge-sheeted for any of the offences under the Indian Penal Code that can be appropriately invoked in the background of the incident of crime or under other laws which can be applied as the facts and circumstances indicate.”

The Act is meant to protect Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from atrocity or oppression, the judge said, and cannot be allowed to be misused. “Therefore, there is a greater responsibility on the investigating officer to take a decision wisely before filing the charge sheet, the order said while squashing proceedings initiated against the petitioner before a city special court.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response can be presented in the format given below (Pl scroll down a bit).


Dog or Barinka?

After the annual rainy season is over and the grass and bushes on the meadows dry, it is season for hunting. The farm-owners come with their muzzle-loading guns and others with sticks. The bushes and meadows are set on fire. As the frightened small game run for their lives, they are shot or beaten to death.

At the end of the collective hunt, the dead creatures are collected and divided among the member the hunting party. One biggish animal, the size of a large hare or medium dog, locally called Barinka, was found in a burnt bush. Its belly was cut open and there they found a large piece of undigested roti.

An argument among the forest beaters, now drunk celebrating the annual hunt, set off. The central point was: “dog doesn’t go into the fiery bushes and Barinka has no access to roti.”

Finally, the hunters ended up eating the dead "Barinka" – further roasted - and downed with drinks!


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By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • John Monteiro, Bondel, Mangaluru

    Sat, Nov 13 2021

    Your comments seem prophetic.- but we seem to bury our heads in the sand.

  • mohan prabhu, mangalore/canada

    Sat, Nov 13 2021

    The Atrocities law is appropriate in some situations, but those should be covered by a due amendment to the IPC as there is danger for SC/STs to take advantage of the law to settle scores. The bigger question is why our legislators continue to accord preferential treatment and priority to one section of the community ny a time limited guarantee in the Constitution, and if after 7 decades the circumstances of these SCs etc. have bit unorived - i.e. after three generations, they will never improve and will clamour for continuance so that the guarantee is perpetual and eventually a minority will dominate the majority.

  • John Monteiro, Bondel, Mangaluru

    Wed, Nov 10 2021

    Gabriel Vaz, Bangalore: In retrospect, I am inclined to agree with you that some other word, instead of "ingratitude", could have been used in the title. The reason is, partly, my limited vocabulary and also to grab attention to the headline.

  • Gabriel Vaz, Bengaluru

    Tue, Nov 09 2021

    Sir, with due respects to you, I wonder why the word ''ingratitude'' is used? Is it to mean SC/STs are ungrateful or perhaps the intention is different. Yes, the law pertaining to atrocities against SC/STs should not be misused. So do so many other laws, including the laws on the protection of women. There are unscrupulous elements and people misusing laws with ulterior motives. Because of some bad or rotten apples, is it fair to discard all. Similarly, just because some laws are misused and often the politicians or police, especially those in power, target their chosen opponents, it is not correct to blame everybody. Those who misuse laws must be punished. But the plight of SC/STs has not improved much and we read of cases and incidents when people are persecuted and ostracised because of their caste and these inequities persist even now in different parts of the country. Until this discrimination is eliminated and the goals, objectives and ideals that were behind the noble intentions of our Constitution makers are still prevalent. So I guess, the goal should be to check and root out this evil and mindset. We need to be egalitarian and little more magnanimous. Perhaps, if you had taken some more time, I am sure you would have given a comprehensive picture. In a brief article, it is not possible to cover all aspects.

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