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Supreme Court Refuses to Roll Back 'Dilution' of SC/ST Act, Says 'Must Protect Innocents'

The Supreme Court bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit, while referring to the massive violence that left several states crippled on Monday, said that the court has not diluted the SC/ST Act and added that it will consider in detail the Centre's review petition that was also filed on Monday.

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Updated:April 3, 2018, 4:49 PM IST
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Supreme Court Refuses to Roll Back 'Dilution' of SC/ST Act, Says 'Must Protect Innocents'
Protesters hurl brickbats as smoke billows out of burning cars during 'Bharat Bandh' against the alleged 'dilution' of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes act, in Muzzaffarnagar on Monday. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: A day after violent protests by Dalit organisations across the country left ten dead, hundreds injured and property worth crores destroyed, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to stay its earlier judgment on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that according to the Dalits, has diluted the law against atrocities on backward communities.

"Those agitating on streets may not have even read our judgment. Vested interests are also involved some time. 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," the SC observed.

The apex court has also clarified that compensation to victims don’t have to wait for registration of FIRs and that the amendment was done only to protect innocents.

The Supreme Court bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit, while referring to the massive violence that left several states crippled on Monday, said that the court has not diluted the SC/ST Act and added that it will consider in detail the Centre's review petition.

Attorney General K K Venugopal mentioned the review petition before Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel for an open court hearing, following which the court agreed to hear the matter. A day earlier the Supreme Court had declined an urgent hearing on a plea which sought a stay and review of its recent verdict on SC/ST Act.

The top court has listed the review petition after 10 days for detailed hearing and asked the Maharashtra government and others to file written submissions by then.

The Union government, in its review petition, said the Supreme Court’s March 20 verdict has "wide ramifications and implication resulting in dilution of the stringent provisions of law enacted under the 1989 enactment. It adversely affects a substantial portion of the population of India being the members of SC/ST. It is also contrary to the legislative policy of Parliament as reflected in the Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989".

The apex court had on March 20 said that "in view of the acknowledged abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Atrocities Act, arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded."

The bench on Monday added that the only offences mentioned in the SC/ST Act were the subject matter of the judgment and other cognizable offences under IPC would not require inquiry before registration of FIR.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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