Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday said several Dalit MPs of the National Democratic Alliance have “expressed concern” over the appointment of Justice AK Goel as the National Green Tribunal’s chairperson.
Paswan said Goel’s appointment has sent a “wrong message”, because he was “the judge who ruled against” the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, reported The Indian Express.
On March 20, a Supreme Court bench of Goel and Justice UU Lalit ruled that a public servant cannot be arrested under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act before an inquiry. The order sparked outrage across the country, and 11 people died and hundreds were detained during protests against the decision on April 2.
Goel retired from the Supreme Court in July and in his farewell speech, he defended the March 20 ruling, asking: “What if a person is falsely accused, should an innocent be allowed to be arrested?”
Paswan said he will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to find solutions to issues pertaining to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, including the dilution of the Act, reported IANS. The Union minister had hosted 24 Dalit MPs from the NDA at his residence in Delhi on Monday evening. The MPs wanted the government to rescind Goel’s appointment.
“These MPs have spoken about the anger among SC, ST people,” Paswan said. “Some organisations are planning to hold agitations on August 9. We want the government to solve the problems as soon as possible.”
Paswan’s son and Lok Sabha member Chirag Paswan said as leader of the Lok Janshakti Party, he would ask the government to remove Goel from the post.
He said the government should table a Bill in Parliament to bring back the Act to its original form, or conclude the Monsoon Session on August 7, so that an Ordinance can be issued on August 8 and a major protest against the dilution of the Act prevented on August 9.