SC/ST Act: Apex court gives time to petitioner to collect data on FIRs lodged


File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Friday granted four weeks to an organisation, which has filed a petition seeking a direction that the original Schedule Castes and Schedules Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 be “maintained”, to collect data on the number of FIRs lodged in India under this law.

On August 9, new amendments to the SC/ST Act were passed by Parliament which overturned the March 20 verdict of the apex court.

In its March 20 verdict, the court had held that there will be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

It had also passed a slew of directions, and said that a public servant can be arrested in cases lodged under the SC/ST Act only after prior approval by the competent authority.

The Centre had earlier filed a plea in the top court seeking review of its judgement after several states were rocked by violence and clashes on April 2 following a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by several SC/ST organisations protesting against the verdict.

The matter came up for hearing on Friday before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.

The counsel appearing for petitioner — All India Federation of SC/ST Organizations — told the bench that they were in the process of collecting country-wide data on number of FIRs lodged under the law.

When the lawyer referred to the plea filed by the Centre seeking review of the verdict, the bench said, “The petition is already pending. You can intervene in that matter.”

Later, the court granted four weeks to petitioner to collect the data.

The organisation has said in its plea that a direction should be given to “maintain original existence” of the SC/ST Act 1989.

It has also sought direction to set up a committee under the chairmanship of a retired apex court judge to scrutinise the 1989 Act, besides seeking that the issue be heard by a larger bench.

On September 7, the court had said that new amendments to the SC/ST law passed by Parliament cannot be stayed at this stage.

It had also asked the Centre to respond to a batch of pleas which have sought to declare as “ultra vires” the new amendments to the Act.

The new amendments rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order.

They provide 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.