Supreme Court refuses to stay amendments to SC/ST Act

Refusing to stay the amended provisions of the SC/ST Act, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it will take up petitions challenging the amendments along with the review petition filed by Centre.

The petitioners sought the constitution of an appropriate bench by the Chief Justice of India to hear the case.

The Centre had last year introduced Section 18A in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act restoring no anticipatory bail provision for accused. The police also will not have to take permission of the competent authority while acting against public servants under this act

A bench led by justice AK Goel (since retired) had in March last year ruled that there is no absolute bar against grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Atrocities Act if no prima facie case is made out or where, on judicial scrutiny, the complaint is found to be prima facie malafide.

The court also ruled that a public servant can only be arrested after approval of the appointing authority and a non-public servant after approval by the superintendent of police, which may be granted in appropriate cases, if considered necessary for reasons recorded.

Following criticism from the SC/ST community and political parties, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government moved a review petition before the top court, which declined to accept the Centre’s request to stay its own judgment.

Later, the Act was amended to nullify the judgment and restore the power of immediate arrest to police and denial of anticipatory bail to the accused person.

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