April 04, 2018

SC will not stay amendments to SC/ST Act


Recent amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 have been refused to be stayed by the Supreme Court (SC).

The amendments aim to annul a March 20 judgment of the apex court, allowing anticipatory bail to persons accused of insulting/hurting Dalits. The petitions, challenging the amendments, were heard by an SC bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri, which ordered the government to reply to claims that the amendments were aimed at mollifying Dalits ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The March 20 judgment “protected innocent people of the country from arbitrary arrest based on frivolous and motivated complaints under the 1989 Act,” the petitions stated. Prithvi Raj Chauhan, one of the petitioners and a lawyer by profession, said that the amendments were a major blunder committed by the government. In his petition, Chauhan said, “After these unconstitutional amendments, this court is not expected to adopt a passive or negative role and remain a bystander or spectator if violation of rights is observed.”

At one point, Justice Sikri questioned why the amendments had been introduced without explaining why the March 20 ruling was wrong.

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