New Delhi: The Centre moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking an early hearing of its review petition challenging a ruling that prevents automatic arrests on complaints filed under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act).
“Written submissions have been filed. We would like for the matter to be heard," said attorney general K.K. Venugopal, who was appearing before a bench headed by justice A.K. Goel.
The court said that it would be taken up for hearing next week.
The government’s decision to approach the court in a review petition came after the top court’s order passed in March raised concerns over a possible dilution of the law meant to protect the marginalised section of society.
The Centre sought a review of the judgement, saying it was vitiated by the fact that the court had proceeded on the basis that it can legislate and has the power to make law when none exists.
This is “wholly fallacious" as we live under a written Constitution, of which “separation of powers between the legislatures, the executive and the judiciary is the very basic structure and is inviolable", it added.
The order “adversely affects a substantial portion of the population of India who are SC/ST members". It is also “contrary to the legislative policy of the Parliament" as reflected in the Act, it said.
It is also the Centre’s stand that any dilution of the provisions of the amended SC/ST Act would result in depriving the community of its constitutional rights.
On 20 March, a bench of justices UU Lalit and AK Goel held a public servant could be arrested only after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval by the senior superintendent of police, if considered necessary, for reasons recorded.
The ruling triggered protests by Dalit groups across the country, with sporadic violence during a Bharat Bandh on 2 April.
On 3 April, the top court refused to keep in abeyance the order preventing automatic arrests on complaints filed under the SC/ST Act and asked the parties to file written submissions within two days.
The matter will be heard on 3 May.