A group of BJP’s Dalit MPs, who on Thursday met Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said they would meet party chief Amit Shah to press for a review petition against a Supreme Court order, which dilutes a law covering cases of atrocities against scheduled castes and tribes.
BJP’s ‘SC Morcha’ chief Vinod Kumar Sonkar, who is also a Lok Sabha member, told PTI that they met Prasad and would meet Shah, and insisted that the government would ensure that no harm was done to the interests of the community.
Prasad told a press conference that the government was examining the apex court’s judgement and would give a structured response to it in the coming days.
Some MPs said on the condition of anonymity that the only way out for the government was to file a review petition in the court as the issue had the potential to become a political hot potato for the saffron party, which had been wooing Dalits.
Expressing concern over misuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court on Tuesday introduced the provision of anticipatory bail and ruled against automatic arrest of the accused booked under the law.
Several BJP leaders said it would work against the interests of Dalits with one of them saying that several laws were misused but it should not result in diluting them and that atrocities against Dalits remained a serious issue in vast parts of the country.
Bizay Sonkar Shastri, a Dalit leader from the BJP and its spokesperson, said it was a serious issue, more so as 90 per cent of criminal cases resulted in the acquittal of accused and the order would further weaken the law.
He recalled that the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati in 2002 had passed an order asking police invoke the SC/ST Act in serious cases only and claimed that he as the then chairperson of the SC and ST Commission had played a role in pressuring her to withdraw the decision.
“The Supreme Court’s order more dangerous than that,” he said. Shastri said BJP leaders had met non-SC/ST lawmakers in Parliament as well and they were also sympathetic to their plea.