Supreme Court refuses to stay amendments to SC/ST Act

The Supreme Court has refused to stay the amendments to Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018. These amendments were brought in to nullify the safeguards instituted by the Supreme Court to prevent its misuse.

Safeguards proposed by Supreme Court

Expressing concerns over the misuse of the various provisions under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court had proposed following safety mechanisms:

  • Provision of anticipatory bail.
  • Approval of Senior Superintendent of Police to arrest those accused under this act.
  • Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) to conduct a preliminary enquiry to find out whether there is a prima facie case under Act.

Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018

The 2018 amendment act was proposed to nullify the safeguards proposed by the Supreme Court. The amendments proposed were:

  • Investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority for the arrest of an accused.
  • Preliminary enquiry will not be required for the registration of a First Information Report against a person accused under the Act.
  • Persons accused of committing an offence under the Act cannot apply for anticipatory bail.

To avoid any ambiguity the act proposes that these provisions apply despite any judgments or orders of a court that provide otherwise. These amendments to the prevention of atrocities act were questioned in the Supreme Court as ultra vires.

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