- Recently, the Union Cabinet decided to amend the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
- The proposed amendments are aimed at undoing three new rules laid down by the court:
2. Bar on anticipatory bail under the act need not prevent courts from granting advance bail if there is no merit in a complaint.
3. There can be an arrest only if the appointing authority or the district superintendent of policy approves such arrest.
4. There should be a preliminary inquiry into complaints.
5. The Amended Bill will witness a protest for diluting the provisions of the 1989 law.
6. However, the supporters of the amended Bill argued that:
- The protest has less to do with the correctness of the apex court’s judgment but more to do with the way it was misinterpreted.
- The ruling had not altered any of the key provisions of the Act.
- The judgment just emphasized that it was only to protect the innocent against arbitrary arrest and that there should be no denial of relief and compensation to SCs and STs, who rights should be protected.
- Proponents of the amended bill argued that no one can object to procedural safeguards against false accusations, if it is misuse of the act.
- Such perceptions seem logical when the conviction rate under the Act is dismally low and atrocities against Dalits are a disturbing reality.
- The amended bill should maintain a balance between protecting the rights of the individuals to a fair trial and enforcing the spirit of a legislation that was introduced to protect the dignity of the disadvantaged.