Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989

 

Relevancy

  • GS Mains Paper-2, Government Policies

Why in news?

  • Centre has decided to restore the original provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  • This comes as a response to an earlier verdict of Supreme Court on the Act.

What was the Supreme Court’s verdict?

  • The Supreme Court had struck down some original provisions of the Act.
  • It issued some guidelines to protect people against arbitrary arrests under the Act.
  • It directed that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority.
  • In the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.
  • A preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the First Information Report (FIR) was registered.
  • This was to check if the case fell within the ambit of the Act, and whether it was frivolous or motivated.

How did the dalit community respond?

  • The verdict faced sharp criticism from dalit leaders across the country and political parties.
  • Dalit groups claimed that the court’s order diluted the true spirit of the law.
  • Despite widespread opposition, the court refused to stay its ruling.
  • So dalit groups demanded an ordinance or an Amendment Bill to restore the provisions.
  • Following widespread protest, the Union Cabinet had given its nod to the Amendment Bill.

What does the Amendment Bill seek?

  • The Amendment Bill seeks to insert three new clauses after Section 18 of the original Act.
  • preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of an FIR against any person
  • arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval
  • provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure on anticipatory bail shall not apply to a case under this Act, “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court”
  • The Centre’s decision to amend the provisions of the Act appears both reasonable and unavoidable at this juncture.
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