Refusing to grant an interim stay on its March 20 order, the Supreme Court Tuesday clarified that it had not read down the provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act but had only sought to protect innocent people from arrest. On the violence that has gripped several states on Monday, the court said that the people protesting may not have read its order or may have been misled.
Appearing on behalf of the Centre, Attorney General K K Venugopal pleaded for a stay on the apex court’s directions to law enforcement authorities to conduct a preliminary inquiry before registering an FIR under the Act and also seeking prior sanction before arresting an accused. The Maharashtra government has also prayed that they the directions be kept in abeyance till the next date of hearing.
A bench of justices AK Geol and U U Lalit said it has taken note of the government’s plea for review and will examine its previous order which imposed stringent safeguards on arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The bench had clarified that its judgment won’t stand in the way of awarding compensation which is due to affected parties or registration of FIR in instances of conjoint offences.
Earlier today, AG Venugopal sought an urgent hearing of the plea and requested that it should be heard in an open court. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, before whom the matter was mentioned, listed it for hearing before the bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit.
On Monday, the government moved the Supreme Court against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act. The court had previously laid down the stringent safeguards before registering a case under the Act. In its plea, the government told the court that potential misuse was not a valid ground for reading down stringent provisions of the Act and diluting it would deprive SC, ST communities the rights guaranteed under the Constitution.