Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday claimed schedule castes and tribes were “angry” over the Supreme Court’s verdict on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and that the Centre “should file a review petition at the earliest”. The apex court had on Tuesday diluted its stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest under the law in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bonafide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the SC/ST Act.
Upset over the judgment, Paswan said his party Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will file a review petition in the case. “SCs and STs (schedule castes and schedule tribes) across the country are angry about this judgment and the government should file a review petition,” he told reporters in New Delhi. He also claimed that several SC/ST MPs in the ruling NDA were also “upset” over the verdict.
The union minister said he has also spoken to Union Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot and requested him that a review petition should be filed at the earliest. Paswan was accompanied by his son Chirag Paswan, who is the chairperson of the LJP’s parliamentary board. The party will file the review petition in this case within a week and will also consider if there is need to file more than one review petition, Chirag told reporters.
The Supreme Court had ordered that there shall be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Before arresting a public servant under the act, a preliminary probe by an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent is a must, the court had said. On the SC/ST (POA) Act, the union minister said the Bill was piloted during his tenure as Union Social Justice minister, and it was passed in 1989 by the then Janata Dal government led by V P Singh .
Emphasising on the importance of stringent measures in the Bill, Paswan recalled the two massacres of Dalits in Bihar in 1996 and 1997. He said most of the accused got acquittal from the high court.
On the religious minority status to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community in Karnataka, Ram Vilas Paswan said Lingayat is a separate sect and the LJP is opposed to identifying it as a separate religion. There are people in this sect who are SCs and if Lingayat is identified as a separate religion then they will not get the benefits which are being availed by schedule castes, he said.