Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said the government is “preparing” to file a review petition against the top court’s ruling on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that puts a stop to immediate arrests in complaints filed under its provisions.
“I have already instructed my Ministry to consider the desirability of filing a review. Appropriate follow- up actions are being taken,” Mr. Prasad told reporters.
Officials in the Law Ministry said the government will approach the Supreme Court as early as next week after preparing a “water tight case” in consultation with the Ministry of Social Justice, the nodal ministry to enforce the Act.
The government has been under pressure from the Opposition as well from its allies and ministers from the Dalit community to seek a review or bring an amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s ruling.
In a recent order, the Supreme Court had banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the Act.
The court had laid down stringent guidelines such as written permission from the appointing authority before a public servant could be arrested.
Arguing that such a ruling made the law “ineffective”, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday led a delegation to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking “his immediate intervention.’’
Delegation meets PM
Worried about the fallout, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan led a delegation of NDA’s SC and ST MPs including Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
The Prime Minister is understood to have assured the delegation that the government would initiate ‘remedial measures’ to ensure that the Act retains its effectiveness in ensuring justice to Dalits and tribal people.
For the past one week, the Opposition has been alleging that the Centre didn’t argue the case well in the Supreme Court.
“We requested the President to file a review petition in the Supreme Court as the case was not well argued earlier in the top court,” said senior BSP leader Satish Misra.
The Congress alleged that the ruling BJP has always displayed an “anti-Dalit, anti-tribal mindset” by abolishing the SC/ST sub plan soon after it came to power, by not filling a backlog of 34,000 reserved vacancies in the central government. It also cited statistics like a Dalit being the victim of a crime every 15 minutes. “So don’t pay lip service and first get rid of the anti-Dalit, anti-tribal mindset,” said Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
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