New Delhi: A bill to overturn a Supreme Court order which had laid down certain safeguards in SC/ST law to prevent atrocities against people of scheduled castes and tribes was introduced in the Lok Sabha today. The move is being seen as a reach-out by the BJP-led NDA government to Dalits, days ahead of their proposed August 9 nationwide protest with the key demand to restore the provisions of the law.
The bill rules out any provision for an anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order, while it 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. “The principles of criminal jurisprudence and section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as interpreted in several judgments, implies that once the investigating officer has reasons to suspect that an offence has been committed, he can arrest an accused.
“This decision to arrest or not to arrest cannot be taken away from the investigating officer,” states the bill introduced by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Dalit groups have been asking the government to overturn a Supreme Court ruling of March 20, saying it had “diluted” and rendered “toothless” the law against atrocities faced by the weakest sections of the society by putting additional safeguards against arrest of the accused. The nationwide protest of Dalits on April 20 had turned violent in several states, leaving at least 12 dead, while call has been given for another ‘Bharat Bandh’ on August 19 with several opposition parties also offering their support this time.