For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for the accused.
A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit said it would hear a batch of petitions challenging the amendments to the Act along with the Centre’s review plea on February 19 for final disposal. The petitions have sought the declaration of the new amendments to the SC/ST Act as ultra vires.
The apex court bench said the issue required hearing in detail and it would be appropriate if all matters were heard on February 19. The SC’s decision came after senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for one of the petitioners, sought an immediate stay to the changes to the Act.
In August last year, the Parliament had passed the amendment bill, overturning a March 20 Supreme Court order that barred arrests without a preliminary inquiry to avoid false implication of innocent people under the Act.
Besides ruling out any provision for anticipatory bail, the amendments provide that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under the law would not be subject to any approval.
Following the SC verdict last year, violent protests erupted across the country, killing seven people, as Dalit organisations saw the ruling as a dilution of the provisions of the SC/ST Act.
However, the amendments to the Act, which were were passed by the Parliament on August 9, incensed the upper caste and protests were held in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.