The Supreme Court will hear the Centre's plea seeking to review the March 20 verdict putting safeguards on arrest under the stringent SC/ST Act at 2 pm today.
The apex court agreed to hear the review petition after Attorney General K K Venugopal referred to large-scale violence and loss of lives and property during yesterday's Bharat Bandh.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra agreed to constitute the original bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit at 2 pm to hear the review plea.
The AG said it is an emergency situation as large-scale violence had taken place and sought urgent hearing of the review petition today itself.
In fast-changing developments, the top law officer initially mentioned the urgent hearing of the review petition before a bench headed by Justice Goel, who was sitting alongside Justice R F Nariman.
The bench agreed to hear the review petition today itself in open court but Justice Goel asked the AG to mention before the chief justice constitution of the original bench comprising him and Justice Lalit.
The amicus curie and senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, who had assisted the court in the original SC/ST verdict, opposed the Centre's plea and said the apex court can't hear the review petition just on the ground that large-scale violence has taken place after the verdict.
The bench headed by Justice Goel said it will hear the review plea filed by the Centre.
The union government, in its review petition, said the March 20 verdict has "wide ramification 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 plea filed by the All India Federation of SC/ST Organisations, a conglomerate of nearly 150 employees' groups, said after the March 20 verdict large-scale nationwide violence had taken place in which several people had lost their lives.
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 top court had also directed that the reasons recorded by the competent authority and the SSP must be scrutinised by the magistrate for permitting further detention of an accused.
To avoid the false implication of an innocent, the top court directed that a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by a DSP rank officer to find whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and are not frivolous or motivated. —PTI