New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to introduce a bill in Parliament to reinstate the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, PTI reported. The government will table the bill during the ongoing Monsoon Session, according to ANI.
Cabinet Agrees To Introduce Bill In Parliament To Restore Provisions of SC/ST Act
On March 20, the top court had barred automatic arrests under the act, mandated preliminary inquiries before first information reports (FIRs) are registered, and said there would be no bar on anticipatory bail. The judgment triggered widespread protests by Dalit groups, which argued that the verdict had diluted the law meant to protect the marginalised communities from crime and discrimination.
"Central Cabinet under the leadership of Hon'ble Prime Minister took a historical decision today that important changes will be made in the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to restore the status as it was prior to the decision of Supreme Court dated 20/3/2018," Paswan tweeted soon after the decision.
The Supreme Court in a ruling in March had introduced safeguards which, Dalit leaders and organisations said, diluted the Act and rendered it toothless.
BJP ally and Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan had led the call to bring a new law to overturn the court order. Several ruling party MPs belonging to Dalit and tribal communities had also backed the demand.
The top court in April this year dismissed the centre's review plea on its verdict on the act.
In the ongoing monsoon session in Parliament, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said "there is no dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and no institution or individual can take away rights of the marginalised given under the Constitution."
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."