National

Parl overturns SC order on ST/SC Act

NEW DELHI, AUG 9 (AGENCIES): | Publish Date: 8/10/2018 12:00:00 AM IST

 Parliament Thursday passed a bill to overturn a Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe law, with the Rajya Sabha unanimously adopting it amid din.

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote, had got the nod of the Lok Sabha on August 6.

The bill rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order. It provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.

Replying to the debate on the bill in the Upper House, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot said all those who spoke on the bill have supported it.

He said that after the implementation of the law, people belonging to SC/ST communities were able to get justice and relief. “However, some people went to court due to some reason. On 20 March 2018, Supreme Court gave some decisions which put brakes on the Act implemented by us,” he said, referring to the provisions related to filing of FIR and arrest. 

“Due to these controls, the criminals started getting protection and the affected families stopped getting justice and relief,” Gehlot said. The minister said there was also scope of interference in the police procedures and therefore the government filed a review petition, which was accepted. He said the members have expressed some apprehensions about the rights of the deprived classes. 

During the debate, some members were of the view that the government has brought amendment bill under pressure from the opposition and coalition partners ahead of proposed nationwide protest later this month to demand restoration of the provisions of the law which, the Dalit groups allege, were diluted by a Supreme Court ruling of March 20. Supporting the bill, Abir Ranjan Biswas (Cong) said “we are supporting the bill but the genuinity of feelings of the government are fake. They have brought the bill only after 9 people were killed and many injured in a nationwide protest against Supreme Court judgment.”

Sarojini Hembram (BJD) also supported the bill saying all the ministries of law, social justice and law should coordinate properly to implement the law.

Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (JD-U) too supported it but suggested that the cases should be investigated by an officer of DSP and above level, while K Keshava Rao (TRS) said this law will again be challenged in the court.

K Somaprasad (CPI-M) supported the bill and said that the apex court judgment had diluted the law, while Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) said the government could have brought an ordinance to overturn the judgment. Kumari Selja (Cong) accused the government of not being ‘pro-Dalit” and said otherwise, it would have brought the law under the Ninth Schedule. Selja also alleged that the government had rewarded the Supreme Court judge who delivered the judgement (diluting the provisions of the SC/ST Act) by appointing him Chairman of a crucial tribunal after retirement. Kirodi Lal Meena (BJP) claimed that the Supreme Court crossed its ‘Lakshman Rekha’ on the issue. Meena demanded that the collegium system should be abolished and replaced by the Indian Judicial Sevice so that SC/ST and other backward communities get an opportunity to occupy higher positions in courts.

Amid the disruptions, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the House for ten minutes.

Later, Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) supported the bill and said it seemed as if the Supreme Court has become the third chamber of Parliament as it was framing legislations. Vijila Sathyananth (AIADMK) said the conviction rate under the SC/ST Act was low at just 15 per cent as per the National Crime Records Bureau. 

Rajaram (BSP), Narendra Jadhav (nominated), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), V Vijaysai Reddy (YSRCP), D Raja (CPI), Ram Kumar Kashyap (ind) and Wansuk Syiem (Cong) also supported the measure.

 

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