The law ministry is preparing a draft ordinance to overturn a Supreme Court verdict placing safeguards on arrest of those accused of committing atrocities on SCs and STs, sources in the government on Tuesday said. The draft is being prepared in case the government decides to bring one to overturn the Supreme Court order. The sources said no decision has been taken so far to bring the ordinance before the union cabinet and much would depend on the way the hearing on a review petition filed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the apex court progresses.
They said since review pleas may not bear immediate results and the Supreme Court decision could not be favourable, the government is keeping the draft handy. The 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. Dalit groups had organised protests across the country on April 2 against the alleged dilution of the Act through the March 20 verdict of the Supreme Court. 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 on Friday asserted his government will not let the law to prevent atrocities on SCs and STs to be diluted. “I want to assure the nation that the law which has been made stringent by us will not allowed to be affected (by the SC order)…,” he had said.
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.