The Supreme Court on Friday referred the Centre’s plea seeking a review of its earlier order on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to a three-judge bench, PTI reported. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Uday Umesh Lalit said the three-judge bench would hear the matter next week.

On May 1, the top court had reserved its judgment on the Centre’s review petition, and said that laws in the country should be caste-neutral and uniform.

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 the 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, had said the verdict 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 amendments till the Supreme Court gave a verdict on the 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.

In January, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the implementation of the Act but said it will hear the petitions challenging the amendments.

The petitions claimed that Parliament had arbitrarily decided to amend the law and restored the earlier provisions in such a manner that 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.

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