Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took to Twitter today and said that no arrest will be made in the state under SC ST Atrocities act without preliminary investigation.
एमपी में नहीं होगा SC-ST ऐक्ट का दुरुपयोग, बिना जाँच के नहीं होगी गिरफ़्तारी।
— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) September 20, 2018
The Chief Minister’s comment is significant in the context of recent developments in the act. In the aftermath of mounting allegations of misuse of the act, the Supreme Court had ruled in March this year that no person can be arrested without a fair procedure. The top court had said that the act was being used for blackmail, and a preliminary inquiry should be conducted before an FIR under the act is registered to check whether the case falls within the parameters of the SC-ST Atrocities Act and if it is frivolous or motivated.
While the top court had ‘diluted’ the act, most of the outrage on it was directed towards the Union Government. Before the matter could go out of hand, a bill was introduced in the parliament to overturn the Supreme Court judgement. On 9th August the bill was passed by parliament, which rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, regardless of any court order. The act passed by the BJP led government says that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.
Given this backdrop, the tweet by MP CM is very significant, as it seems the state government is not agreeing with the central government in the matter. It may be noted that people of upper castes in the state are protesting the amendment to the act which has reversed the SC order. During such a protest recently, a shoe was hurled at the CM. Ahead of upcoming assembly elections, it has become tough for the BJP government in the state to maintain a balancing act in the matter.