The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that a public servant cannot be arrested immediately after a complaint is filed against him under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, PTI reported.

In a move aimed at curbing the alleged misuse of the Act, the top court said an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent must conduct a preliminary inquiry before a public servant is taken into custody. A bench of Justices Adarsh Goel and UU Lalit added that there shall be no absolute prohibition on granting anticipatory bail to public servants booked under the Act.

The bench said that the public servant can be arrested only after the authority, which has appointed him, approves it. If the accused is not a public servant, he can be arrested after the senior superintendent of police of the district concerned grants permission, Bar and Bench reported.

The Supreme Court added that failure to follow these directives would entail disciplinary action and proceedings for contempt of court, Live Law reported.