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Have not diluted SC/ST Act, says Supreme Court; refuses to stay earlier order

Tuesday April 3, 2018 8:36 PM, & Agencies

Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday said it will consider in detail the Centre's review petition against its March 20 judgment on the SC/ST Act but declined to keep in abeyance the directions passed by it to deal with the issues of arrest and sanction under the special law.

The Supreme Court latest move came a day after eight people were killed in violence that spread in at least 08 states of India against what the protesters called "dilution of SC/ST Act." The Supreme Court while refusing to stay its earlier order however said people who are agitating may not have read the judgment properly and must have been misled by people with vested interests.

"We have not diluted any provision of SC/ST Act but only safeguarded the interests of the innocents from being arrested," a bench comprising Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit asserted. It was the same bench that had passed the March 20 judgement.

During an hour long hearing, the apex court said the provisions of the SC/ST Act cannot be used to terrorise the innocents. The bench made it clear that it would hear the Centre's plea for a review of the earlier judgement, along with those who were original parties in the main petition, including the Maharashtra government, according to PTI.

The Supreme Court listed the Centre's review petition after 10 days for detailed hearing and asked the Maharashtra government and others to file written submissions within two days.

The bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, however, said compensation can be paid to victims under The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, even without a FIR being registered.

A number of Dalit organisations on Monday called the nationwide bandh against the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act banning automatic arrest and registration of cases. Seven people were killed after the protest turned violent with people resorting to stone pelting, damaging properties across various states including UP, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra. While five persons died in Madhya Pradesh, one died in Rajasthan’s Alwar one died in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzzafarnagar.

Last Wednesday, a delegation of opposition parties led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi had met President Ram Nath Kovind to raise their concerns on dilution of the provisions of arrest in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and seek his intervention.

“There is great unease and a feeling of insecurity amongst the members of Dalit community and other oppressed classes after the said judgment was delivered. If immediate steps are not taken by the government, then, we are afraid, this may turn into something not less than a national disaster”, the delegation had said to the president.

Amid protest by Dalit organisations, the government moved the review petition in the Supreme Court on Monday. Speaking to reporters, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Centre had no intention of removing the provision of reservation for minorities.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also said that the government "differs" with the reasoning given by the Supreme Court judgement "virtually redoing the entire architecture of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act".

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