New Delhi, April 4: In a massive jolt to Narendra Modi-led Central government, the Supreme Court declined to stay its March 20 verdict on SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act which triggered violent Dalit protest across the country. While hearing the Centre’s review petition on its verdict, the top court on Tuesday said that compensation can be paid to victims alleged atrocities under The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, even without a FIR being registered.

The apex court also asked all parties to submit detailed replies within two days. The matter will be heard after 10 days. A bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit further observed,”Those agitating on streets may not have even read our judgment. Vested interests are also involved sometimes. We are only concerned about innocent people being put behind bars. We are not against the Act at all. But innocents can’t be punished on unilateral version. Why does government want people to be arrested without verification.”

“We are only giving effect to existing law. It is not a law of arrest that the moment an FIR is lodged, the accused is arrested” and the “procedure established by law should be fair, just and reasonable,”Justice Goel further said. (Also Read: Bharat Bandh: Elderly Man Dies as Ambulance Couldn’t Reach Hospital Due to Protests in Bijnor)

On the other hand, appearing on behalf of the Centre, Attorney General of India KK Venugopal said that it’s an emergency-like situation in the country with thousands of people out on the road.  As the AG Venugopal argued why SC/ST people will implicate anyone, the bench replied “Our approach is to protect innocent people, if there is an unverifiable allegation against an official, how will he function, how AG will function.”

On Monday, the government had moved a review petition amid violent Dalit protests seeking recall of the Supreme Court’s March 20 judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

(With agency inputs)