SC reserves verdict on changes to SC/ST law

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi  

Centre: they continue to face stigma

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved for judgment a batch of petitions challenging the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018 which nullified a controversial March 20 Supreme Court judgment diluting the stringent provisions of the Dalit protection law.

A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit heard arguments raised by the Centre that the amendments were necessary as the SCs and the STs continue to face the same social stigma, poverty and humiliation which they had been subjected to for centuries.

The 2018 Act nullified the March 20 judgment which allowed anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against the SCs and the STs. The original 1989 Act bars anticipatory bail. The apex court verdict saw a huge backlash across the country. Several died in ensuing protests and crores worth of property was destroyed. The government reacted by filing a review petition and subsequently amended the 1989 Act back to its original form.

Several petitions were filed last year challenging the amendments. The lead petitioner, advocate Prithvi Raj Chauhan, even called the amendments a “blunder” and a violation of the fundamental right to equality and personal liberty. The Supreme Court however had refused to stay the implementation of the amendments.

The government had responded that there had been no decrease in the atrocities committed on the SCs/STs despite the laws meant to protect their civil rights.

“The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 is the least which the country owes to this section... who have been denied civil rights since generations,” the Centre argued.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 8:29:57 PM |

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