Centre will argue with full authority against SC/ST Act's dilution: Prasad

Centre will argue with full authority against SC/ST Act's dilution: Prasad

Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where five persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing officials to impose curfew in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind districts.

On April 2, the Narendra Modi led government has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its ruling of previous month that changed certain provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe act.

On March 20, the apex court ruled that public servants accused of hate crimes are to be prosecuted only after approval from the appointing authority and civilian delinquents can be arrested only after a legal inquiry, to be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police to ensure that the allegations are not frivolous.

A nationwide bandh was called by Dalit outfits on Monday against the apex court's ruling that allegedly diluted the act.

The minister said immediately after the judgement of the Supreme Court, a decision was taken by the government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. Of these, chargesheets were filed in 78.3 per cent of the cases, and the conviction rate was 25.8 per cent, he also said.

One protester was killed each in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar and Meerut region.

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Senior Advocate Amrendra Sharan, who was appointed amicus curiae in the matter, opposed the Centre's review petition and said the verdict had even dealt with the data and report of the parliamentary committee submitted by the government.

The bench agreed to hear the review petition in open court a day after at least nine people died and hundreds were detained on Monday in violence during protests against its order.

The Court on 20 November directed issuing notice to Attorney General of India as the issue involved interpretation of a central statute.

It added that introducing additional procedural requirements under the order would result in "impeding strict enforcement/implementation of the provisions of the 1989 Act" on account of "impermissible delay in registration of cases" relating to violations caused against the SC/ST community, thereby diluting the efficacy of the enactment. He added, "Thousands of Dalit brothers and sisters have taken to the streets against the Modi government demanding the protection of their rights".

The bench said this on a plea by the Centre seeking recall of its March 20 order where the apex court had said that no arrest would be affected on a complaint under the Act without an inquiry.

Rights activists and Dalit organisations say caste-based atrocities involve denigrating the dignity of Dalits - the former untouchables - and hence a special law is required. We are only concerned about innocent people being put behind bars. "There may also be some kind of vested interests involved". Speaking to reporters, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Centre had no intention of removing the provision of reservation for minorities.

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