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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.19

Criminals or Victims?- Indian Denotified Tribes Fettered by British Laws


  • Dr. Deepshikha AGARWAL

Primary authors


The saga of unending problems of Denotified tribes emanates from the British colonial policies that branded certain nomadic and semi- nomadic tribes as ‘born criminals’. The British were fearful of the revengeful tendencies of these inexorable communities, and tried to control them by Criminal Tribal Act (CTA) , 1871, which subjected them to severe administrative measures. They were kept in open jails, were forced to appear daily before police and were interrogated whenever any crime occurred. Such policy of ‘British misadministration’ permanently harmed them and denied them their basic rights. Indian government repealed the CTA 1871 and brought in new Habitual Offenders Act, 1952 to provide some respite to these tribal communities. The notified tribes were denotified and ostensibly some attempts were made to ameliorate their condition. These administrative approach however reflected the British policy of controlling and ostracizing these tribes. Till today they bear the brunt of wearing the tag of ‘born criminals’, are terrorized by the police department and exploited by others. They live as vagabonds and beggars and are often forced to take to activities like prostitution. In spite of various recommendations given by different commissions appointed by government, there is no effective solution to end their quandry. The present study ponders over the dilemmas faced by these denotified tribes of Indian society and difficulties they undergo in their daily lives prejudices. Using a combination of empirical method and doctrinal research, the study aims to critically evaluate the condition of denotified tribes and provide useful suggestions.