The issue surrounding amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act dominated the discourse in Lok Sabha on Thursday with even BJP MPs raising it. BJP MP from Ujjain, Chintamani Malviya, said the Supreme Court verdict on the Act was “bad for social harmony” and that the government must bring an ordinance to restore the Act to its earlier form.
During Zero Hour, several people called for removal of Justice (retired) A K Goel as National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairman. Justice Goel, who had delivered the verdict on the Act, was appointed NGT chairman after he retired.
The Indian Express reported Thursday that Union Minister and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, saying All India Ambedkar Mahasabha, a Dalit rights coalition, has sought removal of Justice Goel from the post. His son Chirag too wrote to the Prime Minister, saying that Goel should be removed if the government wanted to prevent another April 2-like agitation.
Raising the issue, Malviya said, “This (verdict) has created a lot of problems. First, an inquiry is conducted before registering the case. Even if the case is lodged, it takes more than two months for an arrest. Underprivileged victims have to go to the SSP to ensure action. After the court order, there is very little action and cases of crimes against Dalits have gone up.”
He said the order was proving to be bad for social harmony and the underprivileged were feeling helpless. “I thank the government for moving a special leave petition for revision of the order. But if the court is not ready to hear the matter soon, the government must bring an ordinance. Government must stand by the downtrodden,” Malviya said.
Targeting the government for appointing Justice Goel as NGT chairman, Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge said, “It shows you (government) are supporting it. That all those who commit atrocities, you will give them promotion.”
K Suresh of the Congress said, “The entire Dalit community has expressed concern over the wrong message sent by the appointment of (the retired SC judge) as the Chairman of National Green Tribunal. Since he is the judge who ruled against the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Dalit community is demanding immediate removal of (the SC judge) from the Chairmanship of NGT.” He said Dalits were protesting against the judgment and thousands had been arrested. “Twelve persons from Scheduled Castes were killed in police firing. The situation is very serious because of the judgment.”