Several SC/ST organisations have threatened to protest on August 9 against the dilution of stringent provisions in the law.
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan has issued an ultimatum to ally BJP – the largest constituent of the ruling NDA, to promulgate an ordinance to restore the stringent provisions of the SC/ST Act and remove the retired Supreme Court justice AK Goel from the Chairman post of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The party, on Friday, warned that it will join the ranks with the protestors if the government fails to promulgate an ordinance and remove Goel who it said has “weakened” the law, by August 9.
Party MP Chirag Paswan told reporters that the people from the SC and ST communities were feeling betrayed because the BJP-led NDA government has so far not issued an ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court’s March 20 controversial order that ‘diluted’ stringent provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. He said that the government’s decision to appoint Justice AK Goel to the post the Chairman of NGT ‘showed the government supported his judgment’. Justice Goel was the member of the two judges SC bench that had on March 20 passed an order to prevent the ‘misuse’ of the law against the government servants.
“We are running out of patience as no action has been taken to restore the Act as yet. On April 2, agitations were held across the country. Similar agitations have been announced by some organisations on August 9. We want the government to bring an ordinance to restore the Act before that. Our Dalit Sena will take to the streets if it is not done,” he said.
“Also, we want the removal of Justice Goel from the post of NGT Chairman. These steps will help in building SC, ST people’s trust in the government,” he added.
The ultimatum from the LJP comes three days after it wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi apprising him of an expected backlash from SC/ST over the government’s ‘inaction’ on the matter. Earlier this week, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had chaired a meeting of Dalit MPs from the NDA to discuss the matter. Paswan had said that a delegation will also meet the PM to apprise him about the developments saying “the government’s decision to appoint the retired Supreme Court Justice as NGT Chairman had sent a wrong message to these communities”.
Chirag who also is the chairman of the LJP’s parliamentary board said that the party has been asking the government to restore the “provisions of the Act as soon as possible as people are sad and disappointed with the SC order”. “Also, Goel’s appointment as NGT Chairman is being seen as an award,” he said.
The MP said that after March 20 order of the Supreme Court, people from SC and ST communities had taken to the streets, adding that the August 9 agitations were expected to be ‘sharper’ and ‘fiercer’. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan is the founder of Dalit Sena. His brother Ramchandra Paswan is national president of the outfit. Ramchandra, the Samastipur MP, told reporters that the Dalit Sena will be ‘forced’ to join the protests on August 9 if their demands are not fulfilled.
Chirag said the government should adjourn the Monsoon Session of the Parliament on August 7 and bring an ordinance on August 8 to avoid protests by the Dalits. When asked about LJP’s stand if both demands are not met by August 9, Chirag said, “We will cross the bridge when it comes. Our party leaders will discuss the situation.”
Several SC/ST organisations have threatened to protest on August 9 against the dilution of stringent provisions in the law. As per the rules, the government can’t issue an ordinance while Parliament is in session. Therefore, Chirag Paswan has advised the government to conclude the Monsoon Session on August 7 and issue an ordinance on August 8 to prevent inviting embarrassment on August 9. As per the schedule, the Monsoon Session will end on August 8.