New Delhi: The centre moved the Supreme Court on Monday 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).
The government’s decision to approach the court in a review petition came after the top court’s March order raised concerns over a possible dilution of the law meant to protect the marginalized.
Challenging the order, the centre wants the matter to be addressed by the court in an open hearing, saying, “The judgement dated 20 March has widespread ramifications and implications resulting in dilution of the stringent provisions of law enacted under the 1989 enactment."
Under a review petition, the matter is reconsidered in the judges’ chamber by the same set of judges whose decision is being challenged. The petition is still to come up in court for hearing.
The ruling has triggered protests by Dalit groups across the country, with Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh coming under a Bharat bandh on Monday.
The centre, in its plea said the order “adversely affects a substantial portion of the population of India being SC/ST members". It was 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 their constitutional rights.
“Any dilution of section 18 of the 1989 Act would shake the very objective of the mechanism to prevent offences of atrocities. The pain and injury caused due to commission of an offence against them is the worst form of violation of Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution and requires strict implementation of the law", the petition stated.
It added that introducing additional procedural requirements under the order would result in “impeding strict enforcement/implementation of the provisions of the 1989 Act" on account of “impermissible delay in registration of cases" relating to violations caused against the SC/ST community, thereby diluting the efficacy of the enactment.