SC Refuses To Stay Its Verdict On SC/ST Act saying No Innocent Person Can Be Terrorised under The Act

SUPREME Court of India said on Tuesday that the SC/ST Act cannot be used to terrorise innocent persons after refusing The Government’s appeal to stay the March 20 verdict .The apex court said that it is not against the SC/ST Act and the “provisions of anticipatory bail have been introduced as unlike other laws, no forum was available for the innocents to seek remedy under the Act”. The hearing on the case will be resumed after ten days and asked the parties for detailed objection to the verdict within three days.

“We have said that innocents should not be penalised in the verdict. The innocents cannot be terrorised by the provisions of the SC/ST Act. We don’t want to deprive anyone of  his or her right to life and we make ourselves very clear that we are not against the Act or the complainants,” a Bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit said while justifying directions given in the March 20 verdict which created much furore across the country. Several states were rocked by violence and clashes on Monday following a ‘Bharat bandh’ observed by several SC/ST organisations protesting the top court’s March 20 order. Eleven people died in the violence. Hearing the Centre’s review petition in open court, said that its verdict can be only be reviewed if there is a “patent error” in law and added that the fundamental rights of innocents cannot be taken away. It said that mandate of court is to protect the Constitutional rights and “fundamental rights of citizens has to be kept at the highest pedal”.”Rights of innocents cannot be taken away without giving any remedy to them,” it said and added “people who are agitating may have not read the order. They might not know what is in the order or they may have been misled with people having vested interest”. Responding to submission made by Attorney General K K Venugopal that Article 21 also applies to victims of atrocities, the bench said that Article 21 of the Constitution equally applies to all the citizens and none of the provisions of SC/ST Act has been diluted.”We have only given effect what was in the Act to only safeguard the interests of the innocents from being arrested,” the Bench said.It added that “liberty of the innocents cannot be allowed to be taken away. If no forum is there, then some forum in court has to be there to protect the interest of innocent citizens.”The bench said that by the verdict some filters have been put which were not against the basic tenant of law. The top court said, “We have not diluted any provision of SC/ST Act and only safeguarded interest of innocents from being arrested.”The SC t made the observation that the people who are agitating against SCs verdict on the act have not read it properly and have been misled by vested interests. The Centre said that the procedural checks ordered by the apex court by way of preliminary inquiry before arrest will reduce the rate of registration of cases and conviction, increase pendency and act as a deterrent against filing FIRs.”In view of the acknowledged abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Atrocities Act, arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded.”Registration of FIRs and arrests under the SC/ST Act in view of instances of misuse as observed in the last three decades.

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