3-judge bench of SC to decide on recall of Dalit atrocities law order

The Asian Age With Agency Inputs

India, All India

A bench of justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit said, 'Place the matter before three-judge bench next week'.

The Supreme Court on Friday would likely take a decision on the controversial order that allegedly diluted the stringent provisions of a law protecting Scheduled Casts and Tribes. (Photo: File)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday referred to its three-judge bench in the Centre's plea seeking review of the March 20, 2018 verdict which had virtually diluted provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act.

A petition requested the court for a recall of its order of March 2018, which said there will be no immediate arrest for complaints under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

A bench of justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit said, "Place the matter before three-judge bench next week".

The top court had on May 1 reserved the judgement on the Centre's review plea while observing that laws in the country should be caste neutral and uniform.

 The verdict had led to an outcry and triggered protests by different SC/ST organisations across the country.

The top court’s other two choices -- the introduction of anticipatory bail provisions and preliminary probe by the police before arrest also triggered an uproar. Following the outrage and the subsequent political pressure, the Centre had asked the top court to rethink its verdict.

The Centre had argued that its judgment diluting the stringent provision of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act holding that arrest on a complaint under the law was not mandatory had "seriously affected their (SC/ST) morale and confidence in the ability of the state to protect them".

“The changes were necessary to protect the innocent,” the court said pointing out that the law was being misused on certain occasions and public servants were being stopped from doing their duty.

The government was strongly criticised by Dalit groups, which accused it of failing to take prompt action and ask the court for a review of its decision. On April 2 last year, nearly a dozen people died as Dalit groups resorted to violence to enforce a countrywide shutdown in protest against the court order.

The government, which, by then had announced that it would file a review petition, accused the opposition parties of instigating the violence.

The Centre has since made amendments in the law to overcome the top court's order diluting the provision of arrest. This law was not stayed by the top court.

(With inputs from PTI)