The Supreme Court of India on April 3, 2018 refused to order a stay on its earlier verdict on SC/ST Act, in which it had ruled that there shall be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
The apex court ruled that it is not against the Act, but only concerned that innocents should not be punished unnecessarily due to the misuse of the law.
While hearing the Centre's review petition, the Court stated there should not be any politics on the issue and asked all the parties to submit detailed replies within two days. "We know how to protect the rights of the citizens and have not touched the probe or punishment sections of the Act. So why does the government want people arrested without verification," the apex court asked.
The matter will be heard again after 10 days.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the Centre’s review petition after Attorney General KK Venugopal sought an urgent hearing, following the outbreak of large-scale violence in several parts of the country due to the nation-wide ‘Bharat Bandh’, which was organised in protest of the apex court’s earlier ruling.
The review petition, filed by Union Ministry of Social Justice on April 2, 2018, argued that the safeguards would dilute the objective of protecting the marginalised sections and expose them to more violence and atrocities in a caste-ridden setting while urging the court to recall the ruling.
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Supreme Court’s March 20 verdict
• The Supreme Court of India on March 20, 2018 issued major directions to prevent misuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 in opposition to the officers who deal with the complaints under the Act in their official capacity.
• The court took note of the rampant misuse of the stringent Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Act against government servants and held that there shall be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
• The ruling was made by a two-judge bench comprising Justice AK Goel and Justice U U Lalit.
• The bench of Justices stated that a preliminary probe by an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent must be undertaken before arresting a public servant under the SC/ST Act, in order to avoid false cases.
• The bench also said that there shall be no absolute bar for granting anticipatory bail to public servants booked under the stringent provisions of the law.