Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Saturday joined his colleague Ram Vilas Paswan in opposing former Supreme Court judge Justice AK Goel’s appointment as the chairperson of the National Green Tribunal, ANI reported.
Goel was part of the top court bench that ruled that a public servant cannot be arrested under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act before an inquiry.
“The appointment of Justice AK Goel is completely wrong and he should be immediately removed from the post of National Green Tribunal chairperson,” Athawale, the minister of state for social justice and empowerment, said, according to The Indian Express. “Various Dalit MPs have already opposed the appointment.”
Goel, who retired from the Supreme Court in July, defended the ruling in his farewell speech. “What if a person is falsely accused, should an innocent be allowed to be arrested,” he asked. The order had sparked outrage across the country, and 11 people died and hundreds were detained during the protests on April 2.
Paswan said on July 23 that several Dalit MPs of the National Democratic Alliance have “expressed concern” over Goel’s appointment, which he claimed “sent a wrong message”. “These MPs have spoken about the anger among SC, ST people,” Paswan said. “Some organisations are planning to hold agitations on August 9.”
On Friday, Ram Vilas Paswan’s son and MP Chirag Paswan said the Lok Janshakti Party would join the protests if the Centre did not restore the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.