The Ravi Shankar Prasad led law ministry on Wednesday approved the filing of a review petition against the recent Supreme Court verdict regarding the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. As per the 20th March verdict, a Supreme Court bench had issued directions to prevent the misuse of this act.
Legal websites reported that a two judge bench was examining whether safeguards could be put in place so that the said act isn’t misused. Thus the bench issued the directions which included, there won’t be any absolute bar on getting anticipatory bail if there is no prima facie case.
It observed that, “in view of acknowledged abuse of law of arrest”, a public servant can only be arrested after the appointing authority’s approval and in case of a non-public servant, approval would be needed from the SSP.
To prevent the false implication of an innocent, the DSP may conduct a preliminary inquiry to find out if indeed a case can be made out under this act, and whether the allegations are frivolous or motivated.
The Supreme Court bench had made these observations while hearing an appeal by petitioner Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan, after the Bombay High Court had refused to quash an FIR filed against him under this act.
Following this verdict various BJP MPs and NDA allies like Ram Vilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale had expressed their opposition against this order. This verdict soon turned into a political issue after the Congress led opposition had protested in the parliament against this verdict and demanded immediate intervention from the government. The Congress also dubbed the BJP as anti-Dalit for remaining silent in light of this Supreme Court order.
Reports have claimed that merely hours prior to the law ministry’s decision to file a review petition, PM Modi had met a delegation of NDA ministers to possibly assure them that the government was committed towards the upliftment of the Dalits.
The Modi government has in recent days also opposed the creation of a “creamy layer” within the SC/ST groups, which would prevent the affluent members of these communities from availing reservation benefits.