Restoration of Provisions of SC / ST Act

The weak sections of society are often repressed and exploited by society. To control such behavior and actions the government proposes some laws and bills to safeguard the rights of such weaker sections. But these laws are sometimes misused for the satisfaction of personal desires, and such actions need to be regulated.

An amendment bill was passed in March 2018 to restore the provisions of Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, under the initial provision, the conviction rate remained as low as just 15.4% in 2016. The amendment bill included three new clauses to the existing Act – for the registration of a First Information Report ( FIR ), against any person, a preliminary enquiry shall not be required; no approval would be required for the arrest of the accused under the Act; under this Act, Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, dealing with anticipatory bail shall not apply, allowing the accused to apply for anticipatory bail; the decision to arrest or not rests in the hands of the investing officer which cannot be taken away. The Supreme Court also issued guidelines to safeguard people against arbitrary arrest by making the arrest possible only after the written permission of the appointing authority for the public servants and Senior Superintendent of Police in the case of private-sector employees. The verdict for the restoration of the SC / ST Bill faced a widespread protest from the Dalits as according to them it dilutes the original nature of the provision. the Supreme Court took this decision considering the interests of the Scheduled Tribes / Scheduled Castes and as well as the arbitrary arrests taking place under the provision. The decision was made in regards –

• It was observed by the Supreme Court that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was used negatively as a way to blackmail and harass the innocent common citizens as well as the public servants in many cases.
• It was also observed that the Act was misused in many cases just to fulfill personal agendas by registering false complaints.
• The main purpose of the Act which was to break the caste-based boundaries was diluting and rather becoming strong because of the false complaints filed for the satisfaction of personal interests.
• The arbitrary arrest of the accused is tried to be put in control by making arrest possible on the written permission of the appointing authority in case of a public servant and written permission of the Superintendent of Police (SP) in case of a public servant.

The restoration was made keeping in mind the interests and safeguard of the marginalized without hampering the safeguard of the general public. Without going for a preliminary enquiry for a First Information Report (FIR) it ensured safeguard for the marginalized and by controlling the arbitrary arrests of the accused by making the arrest possible only after the written permission of the appointing authority and Superintendent of Police under this Act it safeguarded the general public.

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