SC/ST Act: CJI To Consider Listing Of Centre's Review Petition And Challenge Against Amendments Together

SC/ST Act: CJI To Consider Listing Of Centres Review Petition And Challenge Against Amendments Together

The Supreme Court on Friday said it will consider listing the Centre's review petition against Judgment in Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan case, and petitions challenging the amendments to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities), together before an appropriate bench.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it will consider and do the needful.

Attorney General K K Venugopal said that a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri had on Thursday passed an order, saying it will be appropriate to hear the Centre's review and writ petitions against the SC/ST Act 2018 together.

The apex court had on Thursday refused to stay the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 which restored the provision that no anticipatory bail be granted to the accused.

Parliament had on August 9 passed the bill to overturn the apex court's March 20 order concerning safeguards against arrest under the SC/ST Act.

The Centre filed the review petition against the March 20 judgment of a two-judge bench which 'diluted" the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by laying down stringent 'safeguards' before registering a case under it and banned automatic arrests.The court was hearing the pleas alleging that the two Houses of Parliament had "arbitrarily" decided to amend the law and restored the previous provisions in such a manner so that an innocent cannot avail the right of anticipatory bail.

The Centre has justified before the Supreme Court the amendments brought in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to overcome the controversial apex court's Judgment in Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan case, diluting the provision of arrest under the law.

In Dr Mahajan's Case, a bench of justices A K Goel and U U Lalit ruled that there shall be no immediate arrest of a public or no-public servant.

They also ruled that the accused can be taken into custody only after an official not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent (in case of public servant) or SSP (non-public servant) makes an enquiry and is satisfied that a prima-facie case existed. SC also said that the accused is also entitled to anticipatory bail if the complaint was found to be mala fide.

Laying down safeguards against "misuse" of the Act, the bench had observed in the judgment: "It has been judicially acknowledged that there are instances of abuse of the Act by vested interests against political opponents in panchayat, municipal or other elections, to settle private civil disputes arising out of property, monetary disputes, employment disputes and seniority disputes. It may be noticed that by way of rampant misuse, complaints are largely being filed particularly against public servants/ quasi-judicial/judicial officers with an oblique motive for the satisfaction of vested interests."

With PTI Inputs