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SC: Public servant cannot be automatically arrested under SC/ST Act

The Supreme Court, in its judgement, held that there was no absolute bar for granting the anticipatory bail in atrocities matter

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New Delhi: 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 on Tuesday held that there is no absolute bar for granting anticipatory bail in a matter under the Act. The Apex Court also added that a public servant can be arrested after granting of approval by some senior officer.
The Supreme Court said the Maharashtra government official “cannot be automatically” arrested on a complaint filed under the SC/ST Act because sanction of the appointing authority is mandatory before taking such an action against a public servant.
The Supreme Court, in its judgement, held that there was no absolute bar for granting the anticipatory bail in atrocities matter.
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.
“A public servant can be arrested after granting of approval by the superior officer. In case of registration of any offence, the DSP shall conduct a preliminary enquiry,” the bench of the apex court said in its judgement.
A division bench of the top court, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and also comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit passed the judgement.
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 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.

The top court further observed that the Government official cannot be prosecuted on the mere allegation of committing an offence under the Act without the sanction of appointing authority.

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