The Parliament on August 9, 2018 passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018.
The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawar Chand Gehlot on August 3, 2018.
Provisions of the Bill
• The Bill states that the investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority for the arrest of an accused.
• A preliminary enquiry will not be required for the registration of a First Information Report against a person accused under the Act.
• The SC/ST Act 1989 states that persons accused of committing an offence under the Act cannot apply for anticipatory bail. The Bill seeks to clarify that this provision will apply despite any judgements or orders of a court that provide otherwise.
The Bill restores the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Act prohibits the commission of offences against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) and establishes special courts for the trial of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims.
It overturns the Supreme Court judgment of March 20, 2018 which allegedly ‘diluted’ some provisions of the law protecting Dalits and tribals from atrocities.
In 2018, the Supreme Court stated that for persons accused of committing an offence under the Act, approval of the Senior Superintendent of Police will be required before an arrest is made. Further, the Deputy Superintendent of Police may conduct a preliminary enquiry to find out whether there is a prima facie case under the Act.
The court ruled that a public servant can be arrested in cases lodged under SC/ST Act, only after prior approval by the competent authority.
The court took note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants.
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