Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes between 2013 and 2015, PTI reported on Monday quoting a government report. The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state was followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.

While the Vasundhara Raje-ruled state has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities Act during the period, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar recorded 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively. Of the total number of registered cases, only 43.3% were taken up in courts, of which 25.7% ended up in conviction, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment noted.

These numbers were revealed in agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, which was held on Monday. At this meeting, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot asked state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases. Gehlot also pointed out the exclusive special courts for speedy trials under the Act were set up only by 14 states.

According to Section 14 of the amended Act, state governments have to set up special courts to exclusively deal with offences under the Act. Gehlot asked Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana and Goa among other states, to set up the courts soon. He also demanded to know if the relief amount was being given to the victims within seven days as per rules. People facing such crime are entitled to government aid between Rs 85,000 and Rs 8,25,000, depending on the nature of the offence.

The Supreme Court had last week criticised the Centre and the state governments over cases of atrocities and discrimination against people belonging to the SC/ST communities. “We have carefully examined the material on record and we are of the opinion that there has been a failure on the part of the authorities concerned in complying with the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes [Prevention of Atrocities] Act and Rules,” the apex court had said, according to The Times of India.