SC to hear on October 3 pleas challenging validity of amendments to SC/ST Act


The Supreme Court Wednesday said it would hear on October 3 the pleas challenging the validity of amendments to the SC/ST Act last year that had nullified its verdict diluting the provisions of arrest under the law.

However, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said it would not accept any written submissions from any party on the Centre’s plea seeking review of the top court’s March 20, 2018 verdict.

The apex court, which on September 18 reserved its verdict on the Centre’s review petition, had indicated that it would pass certain directions to “bring in equality” as per the provisions of law and asked the parties to file their written submissions by September 20.

When the pleas challenging the validity of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 came up for hearing before the bench on Wednesday, one of the lawyers said he wants to file short written submission on the Centre’s review petition.

“The issue of review petition is over.¬†The other issue can be considered,” the bench said, adding, “we are not permitting you to file written submissions.¬†Everything is over on our side on the review”.

The bench said it would hear on October 3 the separate plea challenging the validity of the 2018 amendments.

The apex court had in January this year refused to stay the 2018 amendments to the SC/ST Act, which restored the provision that no anticipatory bail be granted to the accused in offence lodged under this law.

Parliament on August 9 last year had passed the bill to overturn the apex court judgement concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the SC/ST law.

In its 2018 verdict, the apex court had taken note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and private individuals and said that there would be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

Violent protests had taken place across the country after the apex court’s verdict in which several persons lost their lives and many were injured.

The pleas filed in the top court have sought to declare the 2018 amendments to the Act as ultra vires.

The pleas have claimed that Parliament had “arbitrarily” decided to amend the law and restored the previous provisions in such a manner so that an innocent cannot avail the right of anticipatory bail.

The 2018 amendments rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order.

They provide that no preliminary inquiry would be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.

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