Gehlot for review of SC's verdict on SC/ST Act
New Delhi: Union Social Justice Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot has written to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad favouring filing of a review plea against the Supreme Court's verdict on the SC/ST Act, while noting that there were concerns that the order will make the law "ineffective" and adversely impact the dispensation of justice to Dalits and tribals.
Seeking legal opinion on the issue, Gehlot, in the note to the law minister, said, "It is felt that the Supreme Court order may make the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act ineffective and adversely impact the dispensation of justice system. In my opinion it would be right to file a review petition against the verdict."
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) have also conveyed their views and demanded a review of the verdict, saying the original Act, as it existed before the SC verdict, should be restored.
The Supreme Court, on March 20, diluted stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act. It took note of the rampant misuse of the stringent Act against government servants and held that arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority while that of a non-public servant after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded.
It also said that the reasons recorded must be scrutinised by the Magistrate for permitting further detention.
According to a senior ministry official, a large number of atrocities like rape, molestation, harassment and violence happen against people belonging to such communities and most of the victims are so poor that it will be really difficult for them to present their case along with proof to police authorities and secure justice.
Also, evidence can be destroyed during this period. Therefore, the Supreme Court order will only delay justice to such victims, the official said.
The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, 1989 was amended recently to include new offences and to ensure speedy justice to victims.
The amended law had come into effect from January 26, 2016.