Opposition leaders, led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, meet President Ram Nath Kovind on SC/ST Act issue

Leaders of various opposition parties led by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today raised their concerns on dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act with President Ram Nath Kovind.

Published: 28th March 2018 09:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2018 05:03 AM   |  A+A-

Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi talks to media persons outside Rashtrapati Bhavan after a delegation of the opposition party's submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi on Wednesday. | PTI

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Scheduled caste and the scheduled tribe MPs from the NDA called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday seeking the government’s intervention against a recent Supreme Court order purportedly diluting the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Modi gave the MPs a patient hearing, said Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan who led the delegation along with Thavar Chand Gehlot. Last week, Gehlot had written to the Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad over the alleged dilution in provisions for protection of SCs/ST rights.
Alongside, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi led a group of Opposition leaders to President Ram Nath Kovind to petition him against the March 20 order.

The Opposition leaders are miffed that the Centre did not oppose the purported dilution of the Act that has now made prior sanction mandatory to make arrests under it and allows the grant of anticipatory bail.
“We told the President that while atrocities against SCs/STs are increasing, the only weapon they have is being diluted,” Rahul said after the meeting. “The President assured us that he will take necessary action.”
Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Kumari Selja, BSP Rajya Sabha member Satish Chandra Misra, and DMK MP Kanimozhi accompanied Rahul. “The government should file a review petition in the top court,” said Misra.

Quoting a NCRB report, the Opposition memorandum said one crime was being committed against Dalits every 15 minutes and that six Dalit women were being raped every day. Further, rape cases against Dalit women had doubled between 2007 and 2017 and there was a 66 per cent hike in atrocities.
“The situation has worsened under the present government,” the petition said, adding crimes against Dalits often went unreported for fear of retaliation.

The leaders said the problem existed across states and had of late taken on a national colour. They expressed apprehension that the SC order would embolden perpetrators. “There is a great sense of unease among Dalits,” the petition said. But it also noted that there were several instances of the act being misused.

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