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Kerala govt seeks review of Supreme Court ruling on SC/ST Act

The state government filed a review petition in the top court, saying that the judgment has wide ramifications and has created insecurity among the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2018 22:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kerala government,Supreme Court,Bharat Bandh
In its March 20 ruling, the Supreme Court barred immediate arrests under the SC/ST Act, a move the Centre has argued dilutes the law.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

Citing 26 reasons why the Supreme Court order “diluting” the SC/ST Act on March 20 is bad in law, the Kerala government on Saturday approached the apex court, asking it to recall and review its judgment.

The state government filed a review petition in the top court, saying that the judgment is against the provisions of the atrocities act and has wide ramifications as the same has created insecurity among SC/ST people.

Protesting the top court verdict, Kerala government called the provision that denies anticipatory bail under the act as its backbone.

“It enforces an inherent deterrence and instills a sense of protection amongst members of SCs and STs. Any dilution thereof would shake the very objective of mechanism to prevent offences of atrocities,” the review plea argued.

A bench of justices AK Goel and UU Lalit had last month ruled that no arrests can be made under the act without prior permission. It also held that a court can grant a pre-arrest bail (anticipatory bail) if it, prima facie, finds that the complaint is an abuse of the law, false, motivated and intended to blackmail or harass a person.

This was necessary, the court said, to prevent the “rampant misuse of the tough provisions of the law.” “A law should not result in caste hatred,” the bench had said.

The ruling had triggered protests by Dalit groups across the country, with sporadic violence on April 2.

Kerala government, which was not a party to the case in which the Supreme Court delivered its verdict, in its review petition cited a 1995 judgment of the apex court which had upheld the denial of anticipatory bail to accused in atrocities cases.

The 1995 verdict also held “if anticipatory bail is not made available to persons who commit such offences, such a denial cannot be considered as unreasonable or violative of Right to Equality.”

The petition also says that the 1995 judgment was delivered by a bench of two judges. The subsequent two-judge bench (of justices AK Goel and UU Lalit) ought to have referred the case to a larger bench if it had a difference of opinion on the ratio laid down by the earlier bench. Having not referred this matter to a larger bench for an appropriate decision, the judgment impugned is liable to be reviewed.

The Centre has already filed a review petition in the case. But the bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit have refused to stay their verdict.

First Published: Apr 14, 2018 22:20 IST