The Supreme Court once again on Wednesday refused to stay amendments to the SC/ST Act that rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.
The court said that all pleas against the amendments including the Centre’s review petition will be heard on February 19.
A bench headed by Justice U U Lalit said the issue requires hearing in detail and it will be appropriate if all matters are heard on February 19.
The bench refused to stay the amendments to the SC/ST Act after senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for one of the petitioners who had challenged the changes made to the Act, sought an immediate stay on it.
Refusing to stay the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, the top court had on January 24 said the petitions against the amendments and review pleas against its March 20 judgement would be heard together.
The Supreme Court had on March 20 taken note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and held that there shall be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
It had passed a slew of directions and said a public servant can be arrested in cases lodged under the SC/ST Act only after prior approval by the competent authority.
However, the Parliament on August 9 passed a bill to overturn the apex court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe law. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha. It got the nod of the Lok Sabha on August 6.
The bill rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order. It provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.
The apex court had in September last year said that the new amendments to the SC/ST law passed by Parliament could not be stayed as it had become a law, and sought the Centre’s response on a batch of pleas challenging the fresh provisions.