Terming a judgment of Gujarat High Court (HC) as “contrary to the spirit of the amended Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act”, BJP Lok Sabha MP from Ahmedabad (West) Kirit Solanki has written to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani requesting him to take appropriate action to strengthen the Act.
The high court judgment has held that it is not mandatory for the trial court to hear the complainant or victim while deciding the bail application of an accused under the Atrocity Act, if the alleged offence is bailable.
Solanki, who is the chairman of Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes and a Panel Speaker of the Lok Sabha, has made a written representation to Rupani last month.
A division bench of HC comprising Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J B Pardiwala – on August 6, 2020 – had passed the judgment on a petition moved by one Hemal Jain. The petitioner had challenged the constitutional validity of Section 15A(3) of the Act while calling the same as violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Section 15A (3) of the Act bestows the right on the victim/complainant/dependent to be heard by the court during hearings of bail applications of the accused. The court had rejected the petition while holding that the Section 15A (3) of the Act is not violative of Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution.
The court, however, also concluded, “When a person is accused of committing only bailable offence or offences under the Act, it is not mandatory to grant opportunity of hearing to the victim or the dependent as provided under Section 15A (5) of the Act in a proceeding relating to granting bail to such accused.”
With this conclusion, the court clarified, “However, before the court decides to decline such opportunity to the victim or the dependent, the court shall thoroughly verify and ascertain that the allegations against the accused disclose commission of only bailable offence or offences under the Act, by him.”
Solanki has taken objection to the judgment and written to the CM Rupani on October 20.
In his letter, Solanki has said, “I request you that the recent judgment of Gujarat High Court is contrary to the spirit of the Atrocity Act. So, I hope that Gujarat government take appropriate legal action in this regard to strengthen the Act.”
Speaking with the The Indian Express regarding his letter to the CM, Solanki said, “We have full regards for the judiciary. But, at the same time, the court, either the high court or Supreme Court, sometimes exceed their jurisdiction. So, the duty of the court is to interpret the law which is drafted by the Parliament. But sometimes, instead of interpreting the law, they (judiciary) themselves make a law. I think this (the instant judgment of HC) is the similar instance.”
“So, I have written a letter to the CM to intervene in the matter and get it clarified by going for an appeal or whatever manner,” Solanki added.
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