New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre, seeking response within six weeks on a batch of pleas challenging the recent amendment to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Refusing to stay the amended law a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan told the petitioners,”We can’t stay without hearing the other side.”

The court was hearing pleas which alleged that both Houses of Parliament had ‘arbitrarily’ decided to amend the law and restored previous provisions in such a manner so that an innocent cannot avail the right of anticipatory bail.

Earlier on August 9, the parliament had passed a bill to overturn the apex court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe law. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha.

It had got the nod of the Lok Sabha on August 6. The bill rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order. It provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.

The Supreme Court had ruled on March 20 that the police should hold an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of any complaint filed under the Act before acting on it.The court had said that it was providing for the safeguard “in view of acknowledged abuse of law of arrest” under the Act.

(With inputs from agencies)