Supreme Court declines to stay SC/ST Amendments 2018 that rules out anticipatory bail provisions

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The Apex Court on Thursday refused to stay Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 that rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs.

“SC refuses to stay SC/ST(Prevention of Atrocities)Amendment Act, 2018 that rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs. SC says petitions against the amendment & review pleas against the March 20 judgement should be heard together,” reported ANI.

A bench headed by Justice AK Sikri said the petitions against the amendment and review pleas against the March 20 judgement on automatic arrests and anticipatory bail should be heard together. The Bench while refusing to stay the amended Act passed by Parliament, said, “No interim order can be passed in these matters”. After CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sikri recuses from hearing a plea challenging the appointment of CBI interim chief Nageshwar Rao

Attorney General KK Venugopal, who appeared for the Centre government, asserted, Court should first decide the review petition filed against the March 2018 Verdict, and then fresh petitions against the amendments could be heard.

The bench now posted before the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to decide whether the review petitions and fresh plea would be heard together or not.

Earlier on March 20 last year, Supreme Court taking strong cognizance of “misuse” that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is being subjected to, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court passed a slew of stringent directions intended to be followed in the enforcement of this law. It had also introduced anticipatory bail provision under the Act.

The bench, comprising of Justices U.U. Lalit and A.K. Goel, said this three-decade-old law, which aims to protect members of the SC/ST community from social atrocities, is being widely “abused” 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.

However, the Centre had made amendments in the Act to overcome the top court’s order diluting the provision of arrest under the law. The amendments provide that no preliminary inquiry would be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.

Following the Verdict, the opposition parties protested in both the Houses of Parliament. They had in last year demanded that a review petition is filed on the matter.

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