In its March 2018 order, the Supreme Court had made it mandatory for the administration to obtain permission from a competent authority before arresting a person under the SC/ST Act.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday partially recalled its directions issued in 2018 which virtually diluted the stringent provisions of the SC/ST Act. A bench of justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai observed that the struggle of SC/ST people for equality is still not over in the country.
“SC/ST people still face untouchability, abuse and are being socially outcast,” the bench said. The apex court further said the Constitution provides for protection of SC/ST people under Article 15 but they still face social abuse and discrimination. Dealing with the misuse of provisions of SC/ST Act and lodging of false cases, the bench said it is not due to the caste system but due to human failure.
The order on the Centre’s plea was reserved on September 18 by a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai. During the previous hearings, the bench had observed that the 2018 verdict was “against the spirit of the Constitution” and indicated that it would pass certain directions to “bring in equality” as per provisions of the law.
On Tuesday, the top court recalled directions which mandated prior sanction for the arrest of public servants and private persons under the Act and also did away with the requirement of a preliminary enquiry before an FIR is registered.
The Supreme Court had in its March 2018 verdict made it mandatory for the administration to obtain permission from a competent authority before arresting a person under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. In the verdict, the court had taken note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and private individuals and said there would be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
The last year’s verdict had led to a massive outcry and protests by different SC/ST organisations across the country, prompting the Parliament to pass the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, to neutralise the effects of the judgment.