The Supreme Court has sealed the government’s decision on a petition challenging the validity of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018. The court said in its judgment that the provision of immediate arrest will continue in this act and no person will get anticipatory bail under this law.
A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Justice Vineet Sharan and Justice Ravindra Bhatt ruled, 2-1. The apex court has upheld the amendment made by the central government in its earlier decision. The central government changed the earlier decision of the apex court to continue the provision of immediate arrest and non-anticipatory bail in the SC/ST Act.
On 20 March 2018, the apex court relaxed the provision of arresting someone under the SC/ST Act and made the provision for anticipatory bail.
The Supreme Court had made a change in the SC/ST Act, stating that if a government employee/officer was accused, he would have to take permission from the department before his arrest. It had ordered further if an ordinary citizen were to be an accused, the permission from an SSP-rank police officer would have to be obtained. Also, a provision for preliminary investigation was made before the FIR.
The verdict had led to rioting in the country during a Bharat Bandh whose organisers did not care whether the government wanted this judgment. It actually did not, showed the immediate amendment in the law.
Now cases like the one in the Gujarat High Court where the accused was given anticipatory bail could see a different kind of verdict. But then, there are far too many glaring cases where Dalits await justice and rarely get it as in the following case in Madhya Pradesh.
After that verdict, the central government changed the law through Parliament and restored the earlier legal provision. This legal change was challenged in the Supreme Court, after which the decision has been reserved after hearing. Significantly, the Supreme Court on Tuesday had withdrawn its earlier decision in which the double bench of the apex court had relaxed the provisions of arresting someone under the SC/ST Act.