SC/ST Act: Government initiates inter-ministerial consultations on draft ordinance to overturn SC verdict
A draft is ready with the Ministry of Social Justice and it could be placed before the Union Cabinet in coming days if the government's review plea before the SC fails to yield a favourable ruling.
NEW DELHI: Government has initiated inter-ministerial consultations on a draft ordinance to overturn a Supreme Court verdict that put safeguards on the arrest of those accused of committing atrocities on SCs and STs, official sources said today.
A draft is ready with the Ministry of Social Justice and it could be placed before the Union Cabinet in coming days if the government's review plea before the Supreme Court fails to yield a favourable ruling.
"The next hearing is on May 16 and much would depend on that," said a senior official in the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.
Another government functionary said there is no clarity as yet on an exact date for the proposal to be placed for the Cabinet approval.
"But a cabinet note detailing the reason for bringing the ordinance has been circulated to ministries for consultations," the functionary said.
The proposed ordinance would make it clear that notwithstanding any judgement or any other law in force, the provisions of the Act shall remain valid.
"Once promulgated, this would mean the ordinance would overturn the SC order," explained a law ministry official.
Sources aware of deliberations within the government at different levels said promulgating an ordinance to restore the original provisions would help calm tempers.
Introducing a bill in the monsoon session of Parliament slated for July to amend the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to overturn the SC order is the second option before the government, the sources said.
Recently, the Supreme Court refused to stay its March 20 order diluting certain provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
While hearing observations by attorney general K K Venugopal on a review petition filed by the Centre, the apex court had said that it is not against the Act but the innocent should not be punished.
Dalit groups had organised protests across the country on April 2 against the alleged dilution of the Act through the Supreme Court's March 20 verdict.
The protests had turned violent at several places which left several people dead.
Opposition parties also accused the government of failing to protect Dalit rights.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month asserted that his government will not let any dilution in the law aimed at preventing atrocities on SCs and STs.
In its March 20 order, the apex court had laid down new guidelines for police officers on how to ensure that innocent people, especially public officials, are protected from false complaints under the act.