The Centre asked the Supreme Court to give anticipatory bail to people charged under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act if there is no prima facie evidence against them, senior advocate Amarendra Sharan told The Indian Express. Sharan is the amicus curiae – adviser to the court – in the case.

In a report submitted to the court, Sharan had asked for Section 18 of the Act, which does not allow people booked under the law to seek anticipatory bail, to be struck down as it does not stand the test of constitutionality.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay its judgment, passed on March 20, protecting a public servant from being arrested under the law without a preliminary inquiry. The court, which heard the Centre’s review petition challenging the order, said its ruling would neither obstruct authorities from compensating complainants in cases filed under the SC/ST Act nor stop the police from lodging first information reports.

Reacting to the protests against the judgment in which nine people lost their lives, Sharan said it was not possible for courts to pass verdicts under pressure from a mob or political compulsions of any sort. “Reports from Madhya Pradesh say that the police didn’t fire – someone else did and lives were lost,” he said. “We need to be able to protect our SC and ST citizens too. The state must take responsibility for it and no innocent life must be lost.”

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 13.