The Supreme Court on Tuesday recalled its direction in the March 20, 2018 verdict which had virtually diluted provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act. A bench of justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai said the struggle of SC/ST people for equality is still not over in the country. The bench said SC/ST people still face untouchability, abuse and are being socially outcast.
The apex court further said the Constitution provides for protection of SC/ST people under Article 15 but they still face social abuse and discrimination.
Dealing with the misuse of provisions of SC/ST Act and lodging of false cases, the bench said it is not due to the caste system but due to human failure.
The verdict had led to a massive outcry and protests by different SC/ST organisations across the country. Some of the parties supporting the verdict had said that the Centre's review has become infructuous as Parliament has already passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 to neutralize the effects of the judgment.
On January 30, the apex court had refused to stay amendments to the SC/ST Act that restored the no anticipatory bail provision.
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 said that on "several occasions", innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The apex court had said that there is no absolute bar against grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Atrocities Act, if no prima facie case is made out or where the complaint is found to be prima facie malafide.
It had said that in view of the acknowledged abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Atrocities Act, arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).