The Supreme Court on Friday referred to three-judge bench a review petition filed by the Centre against a judgment which had diluted the stringent provisions under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
A two-judge bench had, on March 2018, passed a slew of directions, directing that a public servant could be arrested in cases lodged under the SC/ST Act “only after prior approval by the competent authority”.
On a review petition filed by the Centre asking the court to rethink its verdict, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah has now sent the matter to a larger bench and slated the matter for hearing to next week.
Last year, the apex court had held that there will be no automatic arrest on a complaint filed under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. It also introduced the anticipatory bail provision and a preliminary probe by the police before the arrest of the accused.
The verdict had resulted in backlash from the SC/ST community, which resulted in widespread protests across the country.
Following the public outrage, the Central government had filed the petition and later made amendments in the Act to overcome the top court’s order. The implementation of the amendment in the law was not stayed by the court.
The court is seized of a bunch of other petitions opposing amendments to the Act passed by the Parliament, that rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs. The pleas alleged that Parliament had “arbitrarily” amended the law.
The amendments provide that no preliminary inquiry would be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.