Supreme Court refuses to stay its judgment on SC/ ST Act in review

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices A.K.Goel and U.U.Lalit refused to stay its judgment in Dr.Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra delivered by the same Bench on 20th March. The Court had in its judgment issued directions to prevent the misuse of the provisions of the the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The Supreme Court was hearing a review petition filed by the Central Government against the judgment yesterday. The Attorney General, K.K.Venugopal appeared for the Union Government. The Attorney General argued that the State had framed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to protect SCs and STs who are vulnerable classes. The Court stated that it was not against the Act and that the judgment was not against the SC / ST community. The judgment only prevents the innocent from being arrested.

Amicus Curiae in the case, Senior Advocate Amarinder Sharan also submitted that the judgment did not dilute any provisions of the Act but was only aimed at preventing arbitrary arrests being made under the Act.

The Government also asked the Court to stay its direction for a preliminary enquiry before registration of FIR. However, the Bench refused to do the same and stated that the judgment does not in any way prevent payment of compensation to SC/ST victims even before registration of FIR. The Court further added that the judgment already states that preliminary enquiry is time bound and has to be completed within 7 days. Justice Goel commented that the same may be completed even in an hour or 15 minutes.

The Court also stated that it is conscious about the rights of SC/ST members and that vested interests who have not read the judgment properly may be involved in the causing of agitations.

The Court finally listed the matter after 10 days, while time to all parties to submit their written submissions.

Earlier, the review petition seeking an open court hearing was mentioned by the Attorney General before the Bench of Justices A.K.Goel and R.F.Nariman, who agreed to hear the review petition in open court. The Attorney General thereafter mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra and sought a hearing today itself citing violence and protests all over the country. The CJI therefore posted the matter before the Bench of Justices Goel and Lalit at 2 pm.

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