Centre tells SC verdict on SC/ST Act resulted in 'great damage'

The Supreme Court’s order on the SC  ST Act that no arrests can be made under it without a prior probe led to protests across the country

The Supreme Court’s order on the SC ST Act that no arrests can be made under it without a prior probe led to protests across the country

Reminding the Supreme Court about "separation of powers" enshrined in the Constitution, the central government on Thursday said the court has been misled into thinking that it has the power to legislate, adding that its recent order on the SC/ST Act has "diluted" the provisions of the law, resulting in "great damage" to the country.

The government also said the "confusion" created by the Supreme Court verdict may have to be corrected by reviewing the judgement and recalling the directions issued by it.

The March 20 judgment noted instances of abuse of the 1989 Act and laid down stringent safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a "preliminary enquiry" by a DSP before registration of a case under the Act. Citing the sensitivity of the issue, the government said that the apex court's order had "diluted" the Act, resulting in great damage to the country.

Addressing the controversy over the SC ruling doing away with automatic arrest for offences under the SC/ST Act, Modi said, "When the SC gave its judgment on the Act, we immediately filed a review petition".

The opposition parties on Friday resolved to stage a demonstration in the city on April 16 to protest against the dilution of certain provisions of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

On April 3, the apex court declined to stay its ruling, which activists say has diluted the law aimed at preventing atrocities on Dalits and tribes, as it asserted that it wanted to protect innocent people from being punished.

"The government is determined to maintaining the law as it was enacted".

Senior Advocate Amrendra Sharan, who was appointed amicus curiae in the matter, had opposed the Centre's review petition and said the verdict had even dealt with the data and report of the parliamentary committee submitted by the government. This Act seeks to stop people from committing such oppression and providing victims with special rights and privileges.

In his written submission, Attorney-General KK Venugopal said that through its judgment, the top court has not filled the gaps in the Act but rather amended it through judicial legislation.

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