Supreme Court declines to stay its 20 March verdict on SC/ST verdict

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to keep in abeyance its 20 March order on the SC/ST Act but said it will consider in detail the Centre’s review petition.

A bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, while referring to the large-scale nationwide violence during the protest against the verdict, said that people who are agitating have not read the judgment properly and have been misled by vested interests.

The bench also said it has not diluted any provision of SC/ST Act and only safeguarded the interest of innocents from being arrested.

However, the provisions of the Act cannot be used to terrorise the innocents, it said.

The top court listed the Centre’s review petition after 10 days for detailed hearing and asked the Maharashtra government and others to file written submissions by then.

The union government, in its review petition, said the 20 March verdict has “wide ramification and implication resulting in dilution of the stringent provisions of law enacted under the 1989 enactment. It adversely affects a substantial portion of the population of India being the members of SC/ST. It is also contrary to the legislative policy of Parliament as reflected in the Prevention Of Atrocities Act 1989”.

The supreme court had on 20 March said that “in view of the acknowledged abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Atrocities Act, arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority and 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.”

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