Judgment in Venkatayapalem Dalit tonsuring case merely notional

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) opines that the judgment in the Venkatayapalem Dalit tonsuring case serves justice only notionally. Though the XI Additional District Judge & SC/ST Court in Visakhapatnam was impartial in convicting the accused, the leniency in deciding the sentence indicates that the court had overlooked the casteist nature of the crime.

While the sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, invoked in this case have provisions for a maximum punishment of five years, the court convicted the accused to a jail term of 18 months. It is pertinent to note that the MLC membership of the prime accused, Thota Trimurthulu, would have been rendered disqualified, had the jail term crossed two years, and would have also rendered him ineligible to contest in the upcoming elections.

The crime in this case should not merely be looked at as one committed against the victims, but against the whole oppressed community. There is no justifiable reason for the lenient approach the court took in deciding the sentence.

The accused, ten in number, have managed to prolong the case for 28 years owing to the social, economic and political clout they hold. Their caste background played the key role in ensuring the support of all the political parties in the state. We demand that the State file an appeal in the High Court for increasing the duration of the punishment. If the victims decide to file a private appeal, the HRF will ensure all the cooperation required.

U.G. Srinivasulu (Andhra Pradesh State President)
G. Siva Nageswararao (Andhra Pradesh State Vice President)
Y. Rajesh (Andhra Pradesh State General Secretary)
G. Rohith (Andhra Pradesh State Secretary)
17.04.2024, Vijayawada


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