The Supreme Court on Friday referred its earlier verdict banning automatic arrests in Dalit atrocity cases to a bench of three judges. The top court’s ruling comes on a review petition against last year’s ruling came on a petition filed by the centre.
The apex court had in March last year banned automatic arrests and registration of cases under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, triggering protests. It was felt that law that was meant to protect the marginalized and oppressed sections was being diluted. The court ruling required the approval of the Superintendent of Police to arrest those accused of an offence under this law. Besides, it required a deputy SP to conduct a preliminary inquiry to find out if prima facie, a case can be made under the law.
The BJP initially appeared to back the verdict but later changed its stand in the face of widespread anger among Dalit groups and opposition parties targeting the ruling party as anti-Dalit. The Centre then filed a review petition and when nothing came of it, the changes were cancelled by Parliament to restore the power of police to carry out immediate arrests in cases of atrocities and denial of anticipatory bail.
— India Legal Bureau