Updated: October 1, 2019 12:32:56 pm
The Supreme Court Tuesday recalled its March 20, 2018 judgment forbidding arrest without prior permission for offences under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The three-judge bench recalled directions that mandated prior sanction for the arrest of public servants and private persons. In its order today, the court also set aside its requirement of preliminary inquiry before registering an FIR.
Stating that the struggle of SC/ST people for equality is still not over in the country, the bench said, “SC/ST people still face untouchability, abuse and are being socially outcast. There is still discrimination.”
Dealing with the misuse of provisions of SC/ST Act and lodging of false cases, the bench said it is not due to the caste system but due to human failure.
Acting on the Centre’s petition seeking a review of its earlier order, a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah, and B R Gavai had on September 18 reserved its order in the matter. During the previous hearings, it had observed that the 2018 order was “against the spirit of the Constitution”.
Taking serious note of instances of abuse of the Act by “vested interests” for political and personal reasons, a two-judge bench in the 2018 order had laid down stringent safeguards, including provision for anticipatory bail and vetting of complaint to determine if a case was made out before registration of FIR under the SC/ST Act. A huge public backlash followed the verdict. Several people died in protests and property worth crores of rupees were destroyed. The government then filed the review petition and subsequently amended the 1989 Act to neutralize the effects of the judgment.
Remaining critical of the 2018 order, the apex court had indicated that it would pass certain directions to “bring in equality” as per the provisions of law
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