The Supreme Court (SC) today granted to hear the Centre’s urgent plea searching a stay on its ruling that changed certain provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The hearing is scheduled for 2pm. The Chief Justice of India has constituted a special bench to hear the petition. This bench will comprise Justice AK Goel and UU Lalit, the judges who last month made the ruling on the SC/ST Act.
The Centre yesterday filed a review petition in the SC against its March 20 ruling that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the SC/ST Act. Its petition arrived even as a Bharat Bandh called yesterday to protest the SC ruling turned violent in parts of India, resulting in the deaths of nine people.
Dalit groups, the Centre and several opposition parties trust the SC ruling dilutes the SC/ST Act. The SC last month ruled that instead of an immediate arrest in a case of purported harassment, a preliminary inquiry must first be conducted by police within seven days of an incident before taking any action.
Speaking for the Centre, Attorney General K K Venugopal told an SC bench headed by Justice A K Goel today that there is an emergency situation in the country as thousands of people have come out on the streets to protest the changed provisions of the Act. Therefore, he said, it is necessary to stay the verdict to maintain law and order.
Justice Goel, who wrote the verdict on the SC/ST Act last month on behalf of a bench comprising himself and Justice U U Lalit, said that he had no issue in hearing Centre’s review petition today itself but said that the case has to be decided by the same bench that delivered the verdict.
However, senior advocate Amrendra Sharan, who assisted the SC as Amicus Curiae, told the court that an SC order cannot be stayed because of law and order issues and it is for the government to take steps to control the situation.
According to government sources, the decision to petition against the top court’s ruling was taken after a discussion among the ministries of law and social justice. The social justice ministry filed the review petition.