Ordinance likely if Supreme Court rejects Centre's SC/ST case review plea

Ross Houston
April 16, 2018

Paswan, who has often aired this view within the government, expressed hope that the apex court would allow the government's review plea against its order which, many argue, dilutes the legislation's stringent provisions.

"We felt that the government's law officers could not effectively and clearly put the Centre's views on this before the court when the matter was being heard", the minister said. However, in its hearing on April 3, the Supreme Court said it would not go by any agitation and declined an interim stay on its March 20 verdict.

As Dalits demand ordinance to undo Supreme Court's "dilution" of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Centre tells court the entire judgment is "vitiated". "This case, dealing with the issue of very sensitive nature, has caused a lot of commotion in the country and is also creating anger, unease and a sense of disharmony", Venugopal said. A Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit, on Thursday resumed hearing in the case against which the Centre had filed a review petition on April 2 following a Bharat Bandh call by various Dalit groups that saw nine people die in the ensuing violence across Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

On March 20, the apex court introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the act while directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

The bench had asked the AG whether he can function if any unverified allegation is levelled against him under the Act or could any public servant work if such averments were made against him or her.

It was the Modi government which amended the Act in 2016 to make it comprehensive and stringent, he said.

It had said the mandate of the court was to protect the constitutional and fundamental rights of citizens, which have "to be kept at the highest pedestal". "No relief can be given to the SC/ST community without protecting the fundamental rights of an innocent person", Justice Goel had said. A law placed under the Schedule is not open to judicial scrutiny.

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