Advocate Prakash Ambedkar, in an interview with Neeta Kolhatkar of the Free Press Journal, has alleged that the Supreme Court has tried to legislate in the matter and they are responsible for the violence witnessed on Monday.
Q. You have held the SC responsible for the violence and for trying to legislate?
Ans. Yes, the SC is responsible. Because if they wanted to make such an important amendment to a pro-Dalit legislation, why did the bench not call all the stake-holders? When you are laying down the law under Article 142 (2) of the Constitution, then you have to take all precautions.
Here, they are passing a legislation saying the chief appointing authority should also look into the investigation. Firstly, it needs to be seen whether this authority has the power to investigate? When Parliament has stated that no less than the Deputy Superintendent of Police will investigate such matters, why do you bring in a third authority? This means that you are legislating on a legislation. This shows they have used article 142(2). The Presidential order of 1954 says 142 (2) shall be binding on all courts.
Q. Once again within a few months, we are seeing simmering Dalit anger. They have come out in large numbers on the streets. Are you looking at organising Dalits at a national level?
Ans. No. I would say, yet again the country has seen leaderless protests and morchas. There was no leader to steer them. People came on their own and the kind of simmering anger which we saw overtly out on the streets is not only due to the fear of dilution of the Atrocities Act. The judgment only triggered it. The main grievance, if I may say openly, is the BJP’s agenda to amend the Constitution. And, second, the Congress has become the B team of RSS. That is what we are saying: the Congress is not coming out openly, even though we have supported the party in the past?
Q. What are your specific objections against SC?
Ans. This Act has teeth and you are liable to be arrested only when you commit an atrocity. So, everybody takes care in ensuring they do not offend anyone from the SC/ST community. If he commits an offence, he will lose prestige and will face punitive action under the Atrocities Act. Now, this has been bypassed.
Q. There are allegations some complaints filed under the SC/ST ACT are not genuine. Is this true? Are they lodged for the sake of it?
Ans. Rajnath Singh has given data that no case has been fake. There is no mention of it anywhere. What is the basis of anyone alleging that this time the case was fake, just because someone went scot-free? There is no criteria to determine a fake case. There may be lack of evidence but that doesn’t mean it is a fake case.
Q. Has the Prevention of Atrocities Act helped curb oppression of Dalits?
Ans. There has been some fear because of this Act. It has been a deterrent to that extent. It will always be unpopular because you are taking away from ‘them’ a weapon: earlier, the right to inflict atrocities was their birth right; now that is being questioned, it has also been scuttled by this Act.