Congress, Dalit body demand review of Supreme Court verdict on Scheduled Castes and Tribes Act

The judgement of the Supreme Court protects public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Published: 21st March 2018 07:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st March 2018 07:45 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court (File | PTI)


NEW DELHI: The Centre today faced demands from the Congress and a dalit group to seek a review of the judgement of the Supreme Court that protects public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The judgement pronounced yesterday was described as unfortunate with the Congress claiming it had led to a "sense of insecurity" among dalits and other oppressed classes.

In a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bonafide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act, the apex court yesterday diluted its stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest under the law.

The top court said that on "several occasions", innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the law.

Alleging a rise in atrocities against dalits under the NDA government, the Congress expressed serious concern over the judgement and demanded a review of the same or an amendment in the law.

Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma asked the government to clarify its stand on the issue, claiming there was a "sense of insecurity" among Dalits and other oppressed classes after the apex court verdict.

"There is serious concern over yesterday's decision of the Supreme Court. If it is not reviewed, it will be very unfortunate. There is a feeling on insecurity among the SC/STs and other oppressed classes. We feel there should be a review of this decision which will be in national interest."

"Why is the government silent on this issue. Government should clarify its stand and should present its version before the Supreme Court through the Attorney General. If the government remains silent, it means that the government supports the decision," Sharma told reporters.

Party MP Kumari Selja alleged that the development is a result of the BJP-RSS policy, as they are "conspiring to end reservation".

The Chief Whip of Congress in Lok Sabha, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said the BJP and RSS want to end reservation and neither the prime minister nor any minister in the government has so far given any clarification the issue.

Congress Communications incharge Randeep Sujewala claimed that the Centre and the Maharashtra Government, which were a party to the case, did not present their point of view properly.

He alleged that there was a rise in the number of cases of atrocities against dalits and other oppressed in society.

He said either this verdict should be reviewed or a fresh amendment be made in the Act.

The executive committee of the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch (DSMM) appealed to the Centre to challenge the judgement, arguing it would have a "negative impact" on the concept of social justice.

The manch expressed its grave concern over the verdict and dubbed it as "unfortunate".

The manch demanded that the Centre file a review petition immediately so that the SC/ST Act remains effective, general secretary of the organisation and former MP Ramchandra Dom said in a statement.

"This judgement has a negative impact on the concept of social justice which is a basic principle enshrined in the Constitution," he said.

The Supreme Court has "most unfortunately" modified Section 18 of the Act in the name of 'misuse'.

The truth is that in cases of atrocities against SCs and STs not only is the conviction rate "very low" but there is "delay at every stage" from filing chargesheets to proceeding with the matters in court, he claimed.

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