Stating that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 can’t be repealed, Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale on Saturday said his ministry was not averse to consider an amendment to the act. “The act was passed by the Parliament after a thorough debate and discussion and the idea was to prevent atrocities on the Dalits. The police were given a free hand to deal with those cases,” Athawale said.
However, with a section of the society seeking its repeal, his ministry is ready to consider an amendment to the act, the Dalit leader and RPI president said at a press conference in Nagpur. Repealing the act will not be possible and justified under any circumstances, he added, while accepting that the act should not be used to harass innocent people.
The politically dominant Maratha community is taking out huge ‘silent marches’ all over Maharashtra, demanding repeal of the Atrocities Act, apart from reservations. When asked whether it would be desirable to amend the act when some Dalits were demanding that it be strengthened further, Athawale said the cases under the act should be investigated properly and conviction rate must improve.
On demand of quota for Marathas, he said in view of similar demand from Patels, Jats, etc., the ceiling of 50 per cent imposed by the Supreme Court on the total reserved seats can be increased to 75 percent by passing a law in the Parliament. RPI was going to hold a joint convention of Marathas and Dalits at Shirdi on October 19, he said.