In a development that goes contrary to the central government’s stand in Supreme Court over the latter’s order that purportedly diluted certain provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, at least three states where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power have issued orders to the police to implement the apex court’s order in true spirit.
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, three states that will go to polls later this year, have issued formal orders to the state police chiefs to strictly implement the top court’s directions, a report in The Indian Express said.
In Chhattisgarh, the circular was issued on April 6, days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state and utilised the opportunity to assure the nation that government will not allow any dilution of the Act.
In Himachal Pradesh, where the BJP formed a government last year, an order has been circulated informally for the same, the paper reported. The Khattar government in Haryana, however, has sought legal advice before implementing the SC order.
In Congress-ruled Punjab, the state welfare department has placed the file related to the same before the office of Amarinder Singh. The file is still with Singh’s office which had on April 1 issued a statement that the government was committed to the welfare of SCs. In Karnataka, where polling will be held next month, the order has been circulated informally.
Kerala only state to challenge SC order
In Kerala, where the Left parties are in power, the police chief has simply forwarded the order. Kerala is the only state that has challenged the top court’s order. The Kerala government had last week filed a petition in the Supreme Court urging it to recall its March 20 order, saying it has caused insecurity among SC/STs.
The Centre had on April 2 moved the Supreme Court with a review petition. It its plea, the government had argued that the amendments introduced by the court will deprive SC/ST people the rights promised to them. On the same day, Dalits groups had observed a day-long Bharat Bandh against the dilution of some provisions in the law that left at least 9 dead.
Meanwhile, the IE report said that the Centre has directed states against any move that could “weaken” or “whittle down” the SC/ST Act. The Supreme Court’s March 20 order allegedly diluted some stringent provisions in law by introducing a set of new norms. The court had said that the provision of anticipatory bail should be made in the law and prior approval of the competent authority should be mandatory before arresting a government officer.
The Centre had on April 2 filed a review petition in the Supreme Court urging it to pass an interim order to suspended its March 20 changes. The Centre told the SC that its order will make the law ineffective and deprive the SC/ST people rights promised to them by the Constitution. In return, the court had made some strong observations, saying people who are agitating have not read the court’s order and people are being misled by vested interest.