Supreme Court upholds SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendments Act, says can't presume that Dalits, Tribals may misuse law

  • The Supreme Court is likely to uphold the amendments made by the government in the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

  • The apex court argued, 'We won't dilute provisions to the Act and the law should be as it was'

  • These remarks were made by Justice Arun Mishra as Supreme Court reserves its order on petitions challenging amendments

The Supreme Court is likely to uphold the amendments made by the government in the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The apex court argued, "We won't dilute provisions to the Act and the law should be as it was." These remarks were made by Justice Arun Mishra as Supreme Court reserved its order on petitions challenging the amendments, reports CNN-News18.

 Supreme Court upholds SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendments Act, says cant presume that Dalits, Tribals may misuse law

File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI

The apex court's three-judge bench restored the earlier position of the law by recalling two of its older directions in the 20 March 2018 verdict, which diluted the provisions of arrest under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.  The previous judgment removed bar on granting anticipatory bail to accused and added a provision under which prior inquiry was necessary before the arrest of a public servant and private individual under the Act.

However, the Supreme Court's larger bench said that the directions in the older verdict may delay the investigation of cases under the Act.

Criticising the verdict which provided for prior sanction from the appointing authority before the arrest of a public servant under the SC/ST Act, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai said that it is contrary to legislative intent and not at all statutorily envisaged.

The top court also expressed displeasure with another direction which provided for seeking approval of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) prior to the arrest of a private individual under the Act.

"We are of the considered opinion that requiring the approval of SSP before an arrest is not warranted in such a case as that would be discriminatory and against the protective discrimination envisaged under the SC/ST Act," it said.

With regard to the direction of a prior probe before registering the FIR, the top court said: "In case a cognisable offence is made out, the FIR has to be out rightly registered, and no preliminary inquiry has to be made as held.

"There is no such provision in the CrPC for preliminary inquiry or under the SC/ST Act, as such direction is impermissible."

The older version of the now annulled order dealt with false cases lodged under , but the SC/ST Act, which was the basis of March 2018 verdict, and said: "There is no presumption that the members of the SCs/STs may misuse the provisions of law as a class and it is not resorted to by the members of the upper Castes or the members of the elite class".

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 03, 2019 12:23:19 IST