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Tuesday 21 January 2020

Govt to file review petition against SC/ST Act ruling

A delegation of Dalit ministers and MPs led by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan yesterday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi over dilution of some stringent provisions of the SC/ST Act

New Delhi: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government is “preparing” to file a review plea against the top court’s ruling on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that puts a stop to immediate arrests in complaints filed under its provisions.

“I have already instructed my Ministry to consider the desirability of filing a review. Appropriate follow- up actions are being taken,” Prasad told reporters.

Officials in the Law Ministry said the government will approach the Supreme Court as early as next week after preparing a “watertight case” in consultation with the Ministry of Social Justice, the nodal ministry to enforce the Act.

Speaking to reporters in Indore, Union Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said that the Centre is likely to file next week a review plea against the Supreme Court’s order diluting provisions of the SC/ST Act.

 Gehlot said the apex court’s ruling could lead to a rise in atrocities against members of oppressed classes.

 

“My ministry, after holding serious discussions, had requested the law ministry that there is a need to file a review petition against the Supreme Court order,” Gehlot said.

“I am glad that Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has accepted the request,” he said.

 

The government has been under pressure from the Opposition as well from its allies and ministers from the Dalit community to seek a review or bring an amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s ruling.

On 20 March, the Supreme Court had banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the Act. The court had laid down stringent guidelines such as written permission from the appointing authority before a public servant could be arrested.

Worried about the fallout, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan led a delegation of NDA’s SC and ST MPs including Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

The Prime Minister is understood to have assured the delegation that the government would initiate ‘remedial measures’ to ensure that the Act retains its effectiveness in ensuring justice to Dalits and tribal people.

For the past one week, the Opposition has been alleging that the Centre didn’t argue the case well in the Supreme Court.

“We requested the President to file a review petition in the Supreme Court as the case was not well argued earlier in the top court,” said senior BSP leader Satish Misra.

The Congress alleged that the ruling BJP has always displayed an “anti-Dalit, anti-tribal mindset” by abolishing the SC/ST sub-plan soon after it came to power, by not filling a backlog of 34,000 reserved vacancies in the central government. It also cited statistics like a Dalit being the victim of a crime every 15 minutes.

 

 

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