SC/ST Act hearing in Supreme Court: No stay on March 20 order, says top court; Next hearing after 10 days

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New Delhi | Updated: April 3, 2018 11:21:23 PM

SC/ST Act hearing in Supreme Court Live: The Supreme Court is hearing the Narendra Modi government's review petition against the top court's March 20 verdict.The central government had also said that it did not delay in filing the review petition.

sc st dalit act hearing review petitionSC/ST Act hearing in Supreme Court Live: Earlier, 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.

SC/ST Act hearing in Supreme Court Live: The Supreme Court is hearing the Narendra Modi government’s review petition against the top court’s March 20 verdict on Prevention Of Atrocities Act 1989. The apex court, while hearing the submissions by the Attorney General, had said it is not against the Act. However, it said, “Innocent should not be punished.’ While the government is arguing that safeguards provided by the top would dilute the Act, the Bench said that protesters may not have read the judgement, according to TV reports. The top court has also asserted that it knows how to protect rights of citizens. The apex court has said that it won’t change March 20 order on SC/ST verdict. Further, the court has also given all parties two days time to file written submissions. The Supreme Court added that no automatic arrest will dilute the SC/ST Act.

During the hearing, Supreme Court observed that the verdict delivered on March 20 is not in conflict with the rights of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The apex court also clarified that it did not touch matters on investigations and punishments pertaining to Bharat Bandh violence and expressed its concern over the arbitrary arrests across the nation. The political slugfest over SC/ST Protection Act has intensified with Janata Dal (United) leader Shyam Rajak slamming the Centre. Former food minister of Bihar said that BJP-led government has exposed its hypocrisy and is now only saving its face. Similar arguments were put forth by Samajwadi Party leader Ghanashyam Tiwary saying that the BJP government is deceiving the Dalits. He said that while some BJP leaders were speaking against the March 20 order, many in the party were taking SC’s side on the SC/ST Protection Act ruling.

After the SC’s refusal to stay the order, Rashtriya Janata Dal suggested that the government in its attempt to help Dalits must introduce an ordinance revoking Supreme Court’s amendments to the SC/ST Act.

The central government had also said that it did not delay in filing the review petition. This comes a day after violent protest during Bharat Bandh called by Dalit groups turned violent. However, senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala squashed BJP’s claims and slammed the Centre for not taking proper action against SC’s ruling. Surjewala reiterated Rahul Gandhi’s comment and said it is BJP’s DNA to go against Dalits. Meanwhile, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad criticised Congress and said that the party was letting down the minority group.

Earlier, 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. Total of eight people were killed in Madhya Pradesh, two in Uttar Pradesh and one in Bihar. 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 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 Centre, 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”.

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