Updated: April 12, 2018 5:03:10 pm
The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that its March 20 judgment, which forbids arrest without prior permission for an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, amounted to “judicial legislation” and had caused anger, unease and sense of disharmony in the country. A Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit, on Thursday resumed hearing in the case against which the Centre had filed a review petition on April 2 following a Bharat Bandh call by various Dalit groups that saw nine people die in the ensuing violence across Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, in its hearing on April 3, the Supreme Court said it would not go by any agitation and declined an interim stay on its March 20 verdict.
In his written submission, Attorney General K K Venugopal said that through its judgment, the apex court did not fill the gaps in the SC/ST Act and the case, which was very sensitive in nature, had caused great damage to the country. “This case, dealing with the issue of very sensitive nature, has caused a lot of commotion in the country and is also creating anger, unease and a sense of disharmony,” Venugopal said.
Stressing that the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary was “inviolable”, the attorney general asked the Supreme Court to review its judgment and recall the changes it made to the Act’s provisions.
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“Bland statement that ‘power to declare law carries with it, within the limits of duty, to make law when none exists’ is wholly fallacious because we live under a written Constitution of which separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary is the very basic structure and is inviolable,” Venugopal said.
The March 20 judgment noted instances of abuse of the 1989 Act and laid down stringent safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” by a DSP before registration of a case under the Act. The court said an accused public servant can only be arrested with the permission of the appointing authority and, if it concerns a person who is not a public servant, permission has to be obtained from the district SSP.
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