An upcoming protest planned by some Dalit groups on August 9 may be more aggressive than the agitation in April, Lok Janshakti Party MP Chirag Paswan has warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ANI reported. His father, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, wrote a similar letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Both have demanded the removal of Justice AK Goel as the National Green Tribunal’s chairperson.
On Monday, the minister had said several Dalit MPs of the National Democratic Alliance had “expressed concern” over Goel’s appointment. Goel was on the Supreme Court bench whose ruling in March diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The order had sparked outrage across the country, and 11 people died and hundreds were detained during the protests on April 2.
“This time the protests could get fiercer and sharper,” Chirag Paswan wrote in his letter to Modi, according to The Hindu. “Justice AK Goel’s judgement in Supreme Court rendered SC/ST Act ineffectual. After his retirement, he has been appointed as chairman of National Green Tribunal. This has sent out a message to the SC/ST community that our government has awarded Justice Goel for his judgement.”
His father told Rajnath Singh that Dalit rights group All India Ambedkar Mahasabha had sought Goel’s removal from the post, The Indian Express reported. He said the group also wanted the government to bring in a bill in the ongoing Parliament session to safeguard the law and “take immediate action in the interest of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes”.
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. Goel retired from the Supreme Court in July and in his farewell speech, he defended the ruling, asking: “What if a person is falsely accused, should an innocent be allowed to be arrested?”
Chirag Paswan said on Monday that the government should table a bill in Parliament to bring back the Act to its original form, or issued an ordinance on August 8, and the major protest against the dilution of the Act on August 9 be prevented.