NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would not dilute the provisions of the SC/ST Act, 1989 and made it clear that its Constitution bench had already held that anticipatory bail could be granted in such matter if the courts feel that no prima facie case is made out. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra reserved its verdict on the petitions challenging the validity of 2018 amendments to The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that had nullified the directions in its verdict last year on March 20, diluting the provisions of arrest under the law.
On October 1, the court had recalled the two directions passed last year by its two-judge bench and restored the earlier position of the law. One of the lawyers appearing in the matter told the bench that high courts have been entertaining petitions seeking quashing of FIRs lodged under the Act.
The court said it would clarify on the two aspects, one related to anticipatory bail for offences lodged under the Act and the other regarding the provision of holding a preliminary enquiry by the police before taking action. It observed that there cannot be an absolute bar on either grant of anticipatory bail or holding preliminary enquiry under the Act.
The apex court had in January refused to stay the 2018 amendments to the SC/ST Act, which restored the provision that no anticipatory bail be granted to the accused in offence lodged under this law. In its 2018 verdict, the apex court had taken note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and private individuals and said that there would be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.