The DMK on Monday said the Centre should take steps to include the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, which is beyond judicial review, in the wake of the recent apex court order ‘diluting’ some of the provisions of the Act. In remarks that came days after Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan mooted a similar proposal, DMK Working President MK Stalin said the ‘dilution’ of the legislation by the Supreme court has caused anguish to the oppressed.
Though the laws placed in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution cannot be challenged in court, the Supreme Court had held years ago that judicial review was a basic feature of the Constitution. The apex court had said that even laws under the Ninth Schedule would be open to scrutiny if they violated fundamental rights or the basic structure of the Constitution.
A Tamil Nadu law that provides 69 per cent of reservation in the state is among the legislations that are covered under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Addressing a DMK-led protest demonstration of opposition parties here seeking reversal of the apex court order, Stalin said, “the Centre must file a review petition against the Supreme Court diluting the SC/ST Act or include that Act in the Constitution’s Ninth Schedule and create a good ambience.” He also warned that if this was not done by the Centre, agitations would continue.
The DMK leader said that immediately after the Supreme Court’s verdict on the issue, the Centre should have a filed a review petition. The “biggest achievement,” of the Narendra Modi regime at the Centre was protest demonstrations everyday across the country over several issues, he alleged. In its March 20 judgement, the Supreme Court had diluted the SC/ST Act’s stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest.
The top court had observed that on “several occasions,” innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting that Act. The apex court had directed a preliminary enquiry by a DSP rank officer to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and whether they were not frivolous or motivated.
While the Centre filed a petition seeking review of the judgement, massive protests and violence were witnessed on April 2 on the issue. On April 12, the Centre submitted in the Supreme Court that its verdict was causing disharmony and damage to the country.