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SC/ST Atrocities Act: Supreme Court says arrests without inquiry are against fundamental rights

The bench adjourned the hearing to July, when the top court will reconvene following a summer break.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that no individual can be arrested without following a fair procedure of inquiry. The bench of judges AK Goel and UU Lalit was hearing a review petition the Centre has filed against the court’s March 20 judgement, prohibiting the arrest of a public servant under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, before inquiry.

“If there is a sword hanging on a person’s head that he can just be put behind bars without a fair procedure, then we are not living in a civilized society,” Justice Goel said according to Bar and Bench. He said it is against the fundamental rights of citizens to be arrested without due procedure.

Justifying the March 20 judgement, Goel told Attorney General KK Venugopal that even the Parliament does not have the right to infringe upon people’s fundamental right to life and liberty. He said that the 1989 Act allows arrest of accused individuals “without anybody’s scrutiny and based on a one-sided version”, The Hindu reported.

Goel said the court wants to hear the arguments of all parties to the case, and adjourned the hearing until July, when the Supreme Court will reconvene after the summer break. The bench did not set a precise date for the next hearing, but Goel will retire on July 6.

The March 20 judgement had led to protests by members of the Dalit community in parts of the country. The Congress expressed “serious concern” over the verdict, and accused the Centre and the Maharashtra government – parties to the case – of not presenting it properly before the top court. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the government should either review the order or amend the Act.

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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.


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This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.