Criminal Tribes Act 1871
- November 17, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Criminal Tribes Act 1871
Subject – History
Context – ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’ is a part of the steps being taken to secure the culture and welfare of India’s tribal communities.
- The various pieces of legislation in India during British rule since the 1870s were collectively called the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA). They criminalized entire communities by categorizing them as habitual criminals.
- Because of this label, restriction on their movements was also imposed.
- Adult male members of such groups were forced to report weekly to the local police.
- Under these acts, ethnic or social communities in India were defined as “addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences” such as thefts, and were registered by the government.
- Thugees, a cult devoted to the worship of the goddess Kali, had been operating with impunity in the Indian Subcontinent long before the arrival of the British. They had robbed and murdered travellers in caravans by the millions according to some estimates.
- In order to combat this menace, the Criminal Tribes Act was ostensibly formed.
- Contemporary historians are now seeing the measure as a part of a wider attempt at social engineering which, for example, saw the categorisation of castes as being “agricultural” or “martial” or recognising which groups were loyal to the colonial government and therefore suitable for military recruitment, respectively.
After Independence of India –
- At the time of Indian independence in 1947, thirteen million people in 127 communities faced search and arrest if any member of the group was found outside the prescribed area.
- The Act was repealed in August 1949 and former “criminal tribes” were denotified in 1952, when the Act was replaced with the Habitual Offenders Act 1952.
- In 1961 state governments started releasing lists of such tribes.
- Today, there are 313 Nomadic Tribes and 198 Denotified Tribes of India, yet the legacy of the past continues to affect the majority of 60 million people belonging to these tribes, as their historical associations have meant continued alienation and stereotyping by the police and the media as well as economic hardships.
- Many of them are still described as VimuktaJatis, or “Ex-Criminal Tribes”.
What was the scope of the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871?
- The Criminal Tribes Act was one of the many laws passed by the British colonial government that applied to Indians based on their religion and caste identification.
- The Criminal Tribes Act and its provisions used the term Tribes, which included castes within their scope.
- This terminology was preferred for various reasons, including Muslim sensitivities that considered castes by definition Hindu, and preferred Tribes as a more generic term that included Muslims.
Female Tribal Leaders