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Supreme Court verdict on SC/ST Act

Context: Supreme Court has recalled its directions in a March 20, 2018 verdict that had effectively diluted provisions of arrest under the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. This was following a plea by the Centre seeking a review of that judgment.


Dilution of the stringent provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had sparked angry and violent protests by Dalits across the country.

Observations made by the court:

The struggle for equality and civil rights of SC/ST communities was still not over. They are still discriminated. Untouchability has not vanished and rued that those involved in scavenging had still not been provided modern facilities.

Key Guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in September 2018 and rationale behind it:

  1. Supreme court gave the judgement on the pretext that Innocents cannot be terrorised by the provisions of the SC/ST Act and their fundamental rights need to be protected.
  2. The court said that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority, while in the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.
  3. A preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR was registered to check if the case fell within the ambit of the Act, and whether it was frivolous or motivated, the court ruled.

Way ahead:

The amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 2018 is a move in the right direction. However, no matter how strong a piece of legislation is, all will depend on how well it is implemented.

If the implementing agency does not do its bit then the legislative effort would not be successful in the long run. The administrative set up, which includes police machinery, investigating agencies and judiciary, has to work together to effectively implement such a law.

Current Affairs 2020

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