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Facing criticism from dalit groups, opposition and its allies, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday (August 1) cleared a Bill to restore a provision of the SC/ST Act allowing arrest of an accused without preliminary enquiry or prior approval that was struck down by the apex court in a March ruling.

The Union Cabinet approved The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018 to amend the SC/ST Act,1989 and is likely to be introduced in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament to make it a law.

The decision came after dalit groups had threatened Bharat Bandh on August 9 following the ultimatum set by Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan seeking restoration of the Act by August 9.

It may be recalled that apex court on March 20 had struck down the provision that made immediate arrest of an accused under the SC/ST Act, 1989 compulsory.

The top court had said any arrest would be made only after an initial investigation and prior sanction by an officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Following the ruling, dalit groups while expressing outrage had staged nationwide bandhs leading to large-scale arsoning of public properties and deaths.

—India Legal Bureau

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