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Govt plans to keep SC/ST act ‘unchanged’ if Supreme Court doesn’t reverse order

The government will explore all legal options after the Supreme Court takes a call on the review petition that the government filed on April 2 against the court’s March 20 judgment, which triggered nationwide Dalit protests.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2018 21:55 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sc/ST Act,Supreme Court,Dalits
Members of Samanya Pichhda Alpsankhayak Kalyan Samaj light candles during a condolence meeting to pay tribute to the people killed in protests against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act during Bharat Bandh, in Bhopal, on April 7, 2018.(PTI File Photo)

The government plans an ordinance to keep the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe act “unchanged” in case the Supreme Court does not reverse a recent judgment that many Dalits alleged diluted the law safeguarding them, two Union ministers said on Friday.

According to consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party, the government hopes the top court would revoke it verdict.

“The SC/ST act is a special act. We hope the Supreme Court will take note of the fact that the SC/ST act is a special law. We are determined to maintain the status of the law as it was enacted. If it calls for bringing an ordinance it will be done,” the Bihar politician said.

Another senior minister, requesting anonymity, said necessary steps will be taken in this regard.

“We felt that the government’s law officers could not effectively and clearly put the Centre’s views on this before the court when the matter was being heard,” the minister said.

According to a government source, the issue was discussed at a meeting of senior ministers and bureaucrats on Wednesday that home minister Rajnath Singh chaired. The source wasn’t authorised to be quoted by name and demanded anonymity.

All legal options will be explored only after the Supreme Court takes a call on the review petition that the government filed on April 2 against the March 20 judgment, which triggered nationwide Dalit protests. At least a dozen people were killed in clashes between protesters, police and people opposing a general strike called by Dalits against the court ruling on April 2.

A day after the meeting, the Centre urged the Supreme Court to recall its March 20 verdict banning automatic arrests and registration of cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, saying the ruling had done “great damage” by giving rise to anger among the people the law was meant to protect.

Written submissions drafted by attorney general KK Venugopal and submitted to the court on Thursday support the review petition filed by the Centre against the judgment, which made a “preliminary enquiry” of a complaint under the law mandatory before the registration of a first information report (FIR) by the police.

First Published: Apr 14, 2018 07:21 IST