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Monday 27 January 2020

SC/ST Act: Gujarat HC grants anticipatory bail

The Supreme Court on 20 March diluted the stringent provisions mandating an immediate arrest, in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bonafide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the SC/ST Act

Ahmedabad: A day after dilution of the provisions related to arrest in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by the Supreme Court, the Gujarat High Court has granted anticipatory bail to 15 people accused of assaulting a Dalit man.

Justice JB Pardiwala, on 21 March, granted pre-arrest bail to 15 members of the Rajput community, taking into consideration the SC verdict which came a day earlier.

An FIR under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was registered against 15 people, including women, at Jadar police station in Sabarkantha district in January.

They allegedly thrashed a Dalit man and hurled casteist abuse at him over a petty issue at Moti Vadol village in the district, as per the FIR.

After taking into consideration the Supreme Court’s verdict, Justice Pardiwala granted anticipatory bail, with a condition that the accused will co-operate with the probe.

The Supreme Court on 20 March diluted the stringent provisions mandating an immediate arrest, in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bonafide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the SC/ST Act.

The top court said that on several occasions, innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature.

With a view to preventing the misuse of provisions of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (SC/ST Act), the Supreme Court held that there is no absolute bar for granting anticipatory bail in a matter under the Act.
The apex court said that the preliminary investigation by police was necessary now and sanction by the competent authority would be required in cases against public servants.
The apex court had earlier appointed Amarendra Saran, senior Supreme Court lawyer as the amicus curiae (friend of the court) who submitted his opinion on it. The Court had also issued a notice to the Union of India for its detailed reply on the issue. Maninder Singh represented the Union who had also submitted his opinion.
The bench comprising of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit further had noted that to avoid the false implication of an innocent, preliminary enquiry will be done by the DSP to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous.

 

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