Less than two weeks after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asserted that persons accused of offences under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act will not be arrested before a probe, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has asked the state government to clarify in an affidavit if the CM had made such a statement.
“MP mein nahi hoga SC-ST Act ka durupayog, beena jaanch ke nahi hogi giraftari (the SC/ST Act will not be misused in MP, no arrest will take place before probe),” the CM had tweeted on September 20 after making a similar statement in Balaghat that day.
The statement was cited by an eye technician while seeking anticipatory bail from the Gwalior bench of the high court. Atendra Singh Rawat was posted at the community heath centre in Karera when he was accused of sexual harassment by an accredited social health activist (ASHA). Accusing him of asking for sexual favours while releasing her honorarium, the 35-year-old filed a complaint in the Karera Police Station on May 17, nearly 10 months after the alleged incident. Rawat was booked under section 354 of ipc andthe SC/ST Act.
Quoting the recent amendments to the Act, the public prosecutor objected to the bail plea on the ground that the provisions of Section 438 of the CrPC will not apply to a case under the Act, notwithstanding any judgment or order or direction of any court.
In his reply, the appellant’s counsel Atul Gupta cited the public statement made by the CM, but could not submit any documentary evidence in support. He also said the Advocate General had also backed the CM’s stand that no arrest shall be effected unless and until due inquiry is conducted.
“Prima facie the submission made by the counsel for the appellant appears to be contrary to the provisions of Section 18 A (2) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Although the counsel for the appellant has no documentary evidence in support of his submission but considering that the statement was made at the bar, this Court thinks it proper to give an opportunity to the counsel for the State to clarify whether any such public statement has been made or not and whether arrest shall be made only after conducting due enquiry or not?,’’ the judge said.
Posting the matter for Thursday, the judge said “the reply should be supported by an affidavit of an officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police.’’AG Purushendra Kaurav said the government has not issued any written order after the CM’s remark. He said the government’s stand will be known only Thursday.