New Delhi, May 4: Refusing to stay its March 20 ruling on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the Central government charge and said that its ruling on the SC/ST Act aimed at putting filter on immediate arrest. Appearing on behalf of the Centre, Attorney General of India K. K. Venugopal told the apex court that there have been dozens of cases of atrocities against SC STs in the last few weeks.
Clarifying its stand, the top court said,”We have made it clear that there is no bar on arrest if any other offence is committed. Judgement does not say there should be no FIR but the judgement simply puts a filter on immediate arrest.”
The A-G further told a bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit that their March 20 resulted in the death of eight people during protests as well as an increase in the instances of attack on the SCs and STs. The bench however questioned the submission saying its judgment did not lead to the deaths. (Also read: SC/ST Act: Dalit party pens letter in blood to PM Modi, President)
“Our judgment did not incite anyone to commit crime. Our judgment has been wrongly understood. The SC/ST community has full protection of this court,” said Justice Goel refuting Venugopal’s argument.
Opposing the plea by the Attorney General Amicus curiae Amarendra Sharan said,”Don’t stay (it), it will send a wrong message” that by taking to the streets, the top court’s judgment can be bent.”
The Attorney General then sought the matter to be referred to the larger bench. The Supreme Court will continue to hear matter on May 16.
Earlier on April 3 also, the Centre had failed to convince the Supreme Court bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit to stay its direction considering the massive protests across the country that claimed nine lives. The apex court said that it does not want any member of the SC/ST to be deprived of his/her rights, but only wants that an innocent should not be punished.
Notably, the Centre has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court over its recent March 20 ruling on the SC/ST Act. On March 20, the apex court, in a bid to check misuse of the SC/ST Act, ruled that preliminary enquiry in a case under the Atrocities Act would be done by a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) to ensure the allegations are not frivolous, and to avoid the false implication of an innocent. The court also held that a government official cannot be prosecuted on a mere allegation of committing an offence under the Act without the sanction of the appointing authority.
(With agency inputs)