Centre seeks stay on Supreme Court order on SC/ST Act

Elias Hubbard
May 4, 2018

In the application by Dr Shubhash Kashinath Mahajan before the Supreme Court bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit, regarding the court's earlier order on restriction of arrest under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (SC/ST Act), Attorney General K K Venugopal on Thursday (May 3) suggested that the case be put up before a larger bench.

Venugopal, concluding his submissions, said that Courts can not lay down law inconsistent with the statute and the judgement is in direct contradiction with Section 18 of the Act. The Superintendent of police has to only satisfy that prime face evidence exists for registration of FIR. Such an inquiry can be done in one day. "We never said don't go after the guilty". We have to see whether he is falsely implicated or not. "We have not said don't register FIR, we have only said please check the facts in the complaint".

"Our judgment did not incite anyone to commit crimes".

Supporting his arguments Venugopal gave an example of the recent incident where Dalits were stopped from riding horses.

"Our judgment did not encite anyone to commit crimes".

He assured the communities that the government will argue the matter with full authority in the apex court for the verdict's reconsideration. The SC judges contested the veracity of the data and demanded to know why no action was being taken against those accused of perpetrating atrocities on Dalits. "Communities should learn to respect each other".

Justice Lalit pointed out that the Act itself provided for bail. We have only taken note of the fact that right to life and liberty can not be taken away on some absurd facts.

The bench disagreed with the submission of the AG and said there were several apex court verdicts by which rules were framed including bringing in the existence of collegium system for appointment of judges.

Calling the March 20 judgment as a piece of "judicial activism", Mr. Venugopal submitted that "you can not declare a law in this country when it contradicts the existing law". "Your verdict is wrong", the AG said urging the court to refer the review petition to a larger bench.

"Sanctions to be granted or not, is a legislative matter; it is not for the Courts to decide. It is not for the courts to grant sanctioning powers". The Bandh saw people across the country protesting the apparent dilution of the SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court. "In the last four years, this court has come to believe that it has the power to legislate", he charged.

A-G said that in his view offences against SC/ST was equally grave and faulted the Court order as being an exercise of judicial law-making by breaching separation of power principle. "The safeguards were for the objective that a person should not be readily arrested or an innocent punished because there was no provision of anticipatory bail under the SC/ST Act".

However, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for Centre, said after the 20 March verdict, there has been loss of lives in several parts of country and that the order contradicts the existing provisions of SC/ST Act.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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