The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on a batch of petitions challenging the amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, ANI reported. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Uday Umesh Lalit has been hearing the petitions since February 19.
“Laws in the country should be uniform and cannot be for general category or SC/ST category,” the bench observed, according to PTI.
In its verdict on March 20, 2018, the Supreme Court had diluted the law’s provisions and had said public servants cannot be arrested immediately after a complaint is filed against them under the law. At least 11 people died and hundreds were detained during the protests against the Supreme Court order in April 2018. After this, the Centre moved court to seek a review of this order, and the Parliament passed an amendment bill in August to reverse the verdict. The amendments said no preliminary inquiry will be needed to file a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, on behalf of the Centre, said the verdict in March 2018 was “problematic” and should be reviewed by the court.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who appeared for the parties supporting the 2018 verdict, said the Centre’s review petition had become infructuous as the Parliament had already passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, to reverse the judgement. Singh sought a stay on the amendment act till the Supreme Court gives a verdict on Centre’s review plea.
The Supreme Court bench said if any wrong has been done in the judgement, then it can be corrected through the review petition.
The petitions claim that the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha had arbitrarily decided to amend the law and restored the earlier provisions in a manner wherein an innocent person cannot avail the right to anticipatory bail. One of the petitions claimed that the structure of the Act violates “basic principles of liberty and accountability” after the amendments.