The Supreme Court refused to stay the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 on Thursday. The Act passed by Parliament ruled out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs. The Supreme Court said that the petitions against the amendment and review pleas against the March 20 judgment should be heard together. "No interim order can be passed in these matters," the top court said.
Earlier in August last year, fresh plea was moved in the Supreme Court challenging the amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, claiming it to be a violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Advocate Varinder Sharma, appearing for petitioners advocates Suman Rani and Hira Lal Trivedi, said that the amendments made to 1989, are violative of fundamental rights given under the Constitution. The petition sought setting aside of the addition of Section 18A to the Act, which supersedes the apex court judgment delivered on March 20 by the apex court, which virtually diluted provisions of arrest under SC/ST Act.
The March 20 verdict had led to a nationwide protest by the various rights organisations. The apex court in its March 20 verdict had found that Section 18 of the old Act (denying anticipatory bail to person accused of offence under SC/ST ACt) was violative of the Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
Section 18A of the amendment Act provides, "The investigating officer shall not require approval for the arrest if necessary of any person against whom an accusation of having committed an offence under this Act has been made and no procedure other than that provided under this Act or the code.
Last year also witness widespread protests against the Supreme Court verdict. At that time, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had accused the Opposition of fuelling misconception about the SC/ST Act that triggered Bharat Bandh. The Bharat Bandh was called by some upper caste-OBC groups to protest against the recent amendments to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by Parliament to overturn a Supreme Court judgment. The Lok Janshakti Party chief questioned opposition leaders' "silence" on the shutdown. Paswan, an ally of the BJP, stressed on the need for removing misgivings about the Act which was diluted by a recent Supreme Court judgment, but restored in its original form by a bill passed later on in Parliament.