New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday told the Centre that the new amendments to the SC/ST Act that has been passed by Parliament cannot be stayed at this stage. A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued a notice to the Centre and sought its response in six weeks on a batch of pleas challenging the provisions made in the SC/ST Act recently.

While the advocate for petitioner Prathvi Raj Chauhan asked the bench to put a stay on the operation of the new provisions till the petition is being heard by the court, the apex court said that the SC/ST Act is now a legislation and hence cannot be stayed at this stage. The bench said “What stay? It is now a legislation and cannot be stayed at this stage.”

The bench also argued with the counsel for petitioner Chauhan who stated that the court had made the new amendments in the SC/ST law without removing the defects. The bench then said, “We know that government has brought in new amendments, that too without removing the defects”.

The pleas brought to the apex court argued that both the Upper and Lower Houses of the Parliament had decided to amend the law and restored the previous provisions in the SC/ST Act so that the innocent are unable to procure anticipatory bail.

“It is submitted that in context of this SC/ST(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Section 18A of the Atrocities Act, which excludes Section 438 of CrPC, violates constitutional mandate under Articles 14 and 21,” one of the pleas said. The pleas further argued that the court needed to step in and stop the misuse of this Act. It further stated that the amendments made in the SC/ST law would become a tool for harassment as according to the new provision, arrests can be made without investigation which is a gross violation of one’s fundamental rights.

The Parliament on August 9 had passed the bill to overturn the Supreme Court’s order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the SC/ST law. The new amendments had overturned the March 20 order on rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act and held that there shall be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.