SC recalls its 2018 verdict diluting provisions of arrest under SC/ST Act

A bench of justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai said the struggle of SC/ST people for equality is still not over in the country.

Published: 01st October 2019 12:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd October 2019 07:52 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

Supreme Court ( Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:   The Supreme Court on Tuesday recalled its March 20, 2018 order that had diluted the stringent provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and restored automatic arrest in such cases. 

With the ruling, the top court did away with the requirement of preliminary enquiry for arrest and said that the struggle of SCs and STs for equality and civil rights was still not over as they were discriminated against in the society even today.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra recalled the directions issued by a two-judge bench which mandated prior sanction for arrest of public servants and private persons in such cases.

Allowing the Centre's review petition, the three-judge bench said the two-judge bench shouldn't have ventured to frame guidelines as it was in the domain of the legislature. 

The order came on Centre's review petition asking the top court to rethink its verdict after a backlash from the SC/ST community against the decision, which resulted in widespread protests across the country.

"Untouchability though intended to be abolished, has not vanished in the last 70 years. We are still experimenting with 'tryst with destiny.'

They cannot enjoy equal civil rights. So far, we have not been able to provide the modern methods of scavenging to Harijans due to lack of resources and proper planning and apathy," the bench said while adding that good reputation is an element of personal security.

Stressing the fact that the caste of a person has no role in filing a case, the Supreme Court bench said, "For lodging a false report, it cannot be said that the caste of a person is the cause. It is due to the human failing and not due to the caste factor. Caste is not attributable to such an act.

On the other hand, members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes due to backwardness hardly muster the courage to lodge even a first information report, much less, a false one. There may be certain cases which may be false that can be a ground for interference by the Court, but the law cannot be changed due to such misuse." 

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