New Delhi: In a massive relief to the Centre, the Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned its own March 20, 2018 judgment diluting various stringent provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The Centre had filed a review petition after the judgment led to violent nation-wide protests by various SC/ST organisations on April 2, 2018.
Tuesday’s verdict means that the stay on automatic arrests in the case and a need for sanction before arrests, both of which were part of the apex court’s order last year, stand withdrawn. While delivering the judgment, the top court bench also observed that ‘misuse of the Act is not a ground to dilute the provisions of law.’
Earlier, a three-judge bench had reserved its order on the review petition, on September 18 after a two-judge bench had referred the review plea to the larger bench for hearing in the case. Before that, on January 30, the apex court refused to stay amendments to the SC/ST Act that restored the ‘no anticipatory bail’ provision.
Pronouncing its order in March 2018, the SC had said that there had been instances of serious misuse of the Act by ‘vested interests.’ Observing that on several occasions the Act was used to harass innocent citizens or the prevent government officials from performing their duties, the top court had ruled that there would be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
It also laid down safeguards like allowing anticipatory bail and probing if a case was made out under the Act, before registration of the FIR.
The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, better known as the SC/ST Act, is an Act of the Parliament enacted to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.