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The Supreme Court on Wednesday once again declined to stay the stay amendments to the SC/ST Act that restored the no anticipatory bail provision and said all matters including the Center’s review petition will be heard on February 19.

The apex court had last Thursday similarily declined to stay SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 saying that petitions against the amendment and review pleas against the March 20 judgment should be tagged together.

The petitioners in the plea have referred the amendment as “arbitrary” by the Parliament as it overturned the top court decision to defend the innocent people from the ill-usage of the rigorous provisions of the Act.

“The government brought the amendment under influence from allies and for political mileage and its fears over antagonising massive vote-bank ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” the petitioners had said in the plea.

Today, a bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit said the issue requires hearing in detail and it will be appropriate if all matters are heard on February 19.

The bench refused to stay the amendments to the SC/ST Act after senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for one of the petitioners who had challenged the changes made to the Act, sought an immediate stay on it.

Parliament on August 9 last year had passed a bill to overturn the apex court order relating to certain safeguards against arrest under the SC and ST law.

On March 20, 2018, the apex court had taken note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and private individuals and said there would be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

The top court had earlier said that the new amendments to the SC/ST law passed by Parliament cannot be stayed and had sought the Centre’s response on pleas challenging the provisions.

The pleas have sought declaration of the new amendments to the Schedule Castes and Schedules Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as ultra vires.

The 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.

 

–India Legal Bureau

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