New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said a petition seeking a CBI probe into the incidents of violence during the April 2 ‘Bharat bandh’, called by some organisations to protest the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act, would be listed before an “appropriate bench”. The matter came up for hearing before a bench of Justices A M Sapre and U U Lalit which said that it would be heard by an appropriate bench of the apex court.
On May 16, the court had sought the Centre’s response on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by social activist Bejon Kumar Misra who had alleged that “public outrage over the alleged dilution of the SC/ST act” was fanned by political parties and politicians, cutting across party lines.
The plea, filed by advocates Shashank Deo Sudhi and Shashi Bhushan, has sought directions to political parties and politicians to account for the losses and damage to public property following the agitation. It has also sought issuance of guidelines for politicians when it comes to criticism of judiciary or topics of public importance. Widespread violence had taken place across the country during the bandh in which 11 lives were lost and several properties destroyed or damaged.
The apex court had on March 20 virtually diluted the stringent provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act mandating immediate arrest under the law.
The court had said that on “several occasions”, innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the SC/ST Act. The Centre had later moved the apex court seeking review of the verdict saying it has “diluted” the provisions of the law, resulting in “great damage” to the country.
It had said the verdict, which had dealt with an issue of a “very sensitive nature”, has caused “commotion”, “anger, unease and a sense of disharmony” in the country. While hearing the review petition filed by the Centre, the apex court had said that even Parliament cannot allow the arrest of a person without a fair procedure and asserted that it has protected the fundamental rights to life and liberty of innocents by ordering prior scrutiny of complaints.
On August 9, Parliament had passed a bill to overturn the Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the SC/ST law, with the Rajya Sabha unanimously adopting it amid din. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote, had got the nod of the Lok Sabha on August 6.
The bill rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order. It provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.
The legislation also provides that no preliminary enquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.