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  1. Government mulls putting SC/ST Act in Schedule IX of Constitution to insulate it from judicial scrutiny

Government mulls putting SC/ST Act in Schedule IX of Constitution to insulate it from judicial scrutiny

The government is planning to bring an ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court verdict putting safeguards on arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and subsequently introduce a bill to insulate it from further judicial scrutiny.

By: | New Delhi | Published: May 13, 2018 5:40 PM
SC/ST Act, Supreme Court, Law Ministry, Dalit groups, news on SC/ST Act, latest news on SC/ST Act Dalit groups had organised protests across the country on April 2 against the “dilution” of the act through the Supreme Court’s March 20 verdict. (PTI)

The government is planning to bring an ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court verdict putting safeguards on arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and subsequently introduce a bill to insulate it from further judicial scrutiny. The government is likely to introduce the bill in monsoon session of Parliament to incorporate the legislation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, laws under which cannot be challenged in courts. Through the ordinance, the government will reintroduce provisions of the act which it feels were diluted by the Supreme Court verdict in March this year.

The “dilution” triggered massive protests by various Dalit and political outfits, during which nearly a dozen people were killed. “While the bill is a permanent arrangement to ensure that the SC/ST Act’s provisions are not diluted again, the ordinance is an interim arrangement to overturn the ruling,” a senior government functionary explained. The proposed ordinance would make it clear that notwithstanding any judgement or any other law in force, the provisions of the act shall remain valid.

“Once promulgated, this would mean the ordinance would overturn the SC order,” a Law Ministry official said. “The next hearing is on May 16 and much would depend on that,” said a senior official in the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. Referring to the proposed bill, an official said, “Once included in the Ninth Schedule, the legislation gets protection under Article 31-B (validation of certain Acts and Regulations) and is not subject to judicial scrutiny.”

Recently, the Supreme Court refused to stay its March 20 order diluting certain provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. While hearing observations by attorney general K K Venugopal on a review petition filed by the Centre, the apex court had said that it was not against the Act but the innocent should not be punished.

Dalit groups had organised protests across the country on April 2 against the “dilution” of the act through the Supreme Court’s March 20 verdict. The protests had turned violent at several places which left nearly a dozen people killed. Opposition parties also accused the government of failing to protect Dalit rights.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month asserted that his government would not let any dilution in the law aimed at preventing atrocities against SCs and STs. In its March 20 order, the apex court had laid down new guidelines for police officers on how to ensure that innocent people, especially public officials, are protected from false complaints under the act.

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    Bharat singh
    May 14, 2018 at 7:24 am
    Sc/St act is an act which is used by SC and St to abuse general category, particularly in government employment. Supreme court has rightly emphasized on proper investigation before registering the case under sc/St act. Now why is govt bent to modify the cons ution against the interest of general category,. Doing so would give unrestricted power to sc/St to threaten any general category person when in dispute. It must be noted that sc/St act is ineffective against other sc/St person, as both can file counter cases against each other, so the only people who are likely to be abused by the law are general category. additionally supreme court ruling nowhere dilutes the act or punishment under it, it only emphasises proper investigation prior registering Fir, as it takes 20 yrs to prove once innocence for a petty crime with harsh punishment and accused who may be innocent is subjected to blackmail by sc/St person Stupid decision by government
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