Cong, BJP spar over apex court judgment on SC/ST Act

RSTV Bureau

Supreme Court

A day after Supreme Court issued a slew of directions to check the misuse of SC/ST Act, the Congress party raised serious concerns and demanded that a review petition be filed by the Government for reconsideration of apex court’s order. The Congress also accused the BJP-led NDA government at Centre of not safeguarding the rights of SCs and STs.

The Government, however, hit back at the Congress for politicking over the issue and stressed that it was committed to welfare of SCs and STs.

The rights of the SCs and STs are being compromised, said the party in its presser at the Parliament House.

“There is serious concern over yesterday’s decision of the Supreme Court. If it is not reviewed, it will be very unfortunate. There is a feeling on insecurity among the SC/STs and other oppressed classes. We feel there should be a review of this decision which will be in national interest,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

The party also claimed that the Supreme Court order to rule out automatic registration of FIR and arrest in a complaint under SC/ST Act will dilute the provisions of Act.

“Why is the government silent on this issue. Government should clarify its stand and should present its version before the Supreme Court through the Attorney General. If the government remains silent, it means that the government supports the decision,” he told reporters.

The Chief Whip of Congress in Lok Sabha, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said the BJP and RSS want to end reservation and neither the prime minister nor any minister in the government has so far given any clarification the issue.

Meanwhile, responding to the Congress contention, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned party’s commitment and credentials for the welfare of the SCs and STs.

The government is committed to uplifting, and empowering the people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, he said.

On Tuesday, expressing concern over rampant misuse of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, the Supreme Court introduced the provision of anticipatory bail while also directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law and a preliminary inquiry must be conducted by police within seven days before taking any action.

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act was first enacted in 1989 and strengthened in 2015, when caste slurs was also brought under its ambit.

The court also noted that the NCRB had recorded that in 2016 among the cases filed for crimes against scheduled caste persons, 5,347 cases were found to be false and 912 of the ST cases were found to be false.

The Supreme Court, in its order, underlined the need to provide safeguards in view of the misuse observed in the last three decades.

(With inputs from PTI)