Will not dilute provisions of amended SC/ST Act: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated that it would not dilute the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act , 2018, that re-introduced the stringent provisions of the law after they were watered down by the top court last year.
Led by Justice Arun Mishra, a three-judge bench said: “We don’t want to dilute the provisions. As it is, the law before the judgment of Justice Adarsh Goel has been restored by our judgment in the review. We will not be touching anything more.”
The bench then reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions questioning the amended law.
The apex court had on Tuesday set aside its March 20, 2018 verdict that curtailed police’s power to arrest under the SC/ST Act. Subsequent to the judgment, Parliament passed an amendment to the law last year to nullify the effect of the court order. The changes were challenged before the top court again.
During the hearing on Thursday, the bench hinted that it was open to uphold the amendment. The petitioners wanted the court to restore the provisions for a preliminary inquiry into complaints as well as anticipatory bail that was spelt out in the 2018 verdict.
On anticipatory bail, Justice Mishra quoted an earlier Constitution bench verdict that said pre-arrest bail can be granted in cases where a prima facie case under the SC/ST Act is not made out. This law, the court said, stands in light of the judgment delivered on the review petition two days back. When a lawyer tried to place before the court instances of misuse of the Act, the court clarified that such false cases will be decided on their merits.
“These provisions (relating to preliminary inquiry) will not be struck down and will stand the way they did under the Lalita Kumari judgment. The law under Justice Goel’s judgment has now been struck down,” the court remarked.
The 2013 Lalita Kumari judgment had made it mandatory to register a first information report (FIR) in a case of cognizable offence.