In 2018, Centre had made amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (SC ST Act) which has now been upheld as being constitutionally valid. The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Sarana and Ravindra Bhat heard the pleas against this amendment.
The amendments stated that no preliminary inquiry would be needed to register a criminal case under the SC/ST Act. The amendment effectively ruled out any provision for anticipatory bail to persons accused of crimes against the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The amendment was made by the Parliament to nullify a previous Supreme Court judgment of March 20, 2018. This judgment had diluted the provisions of the SC ST Act and to correct this, the Centre was compelled to make these amendments.
A new section 18A was added by the amendment which waived off requirement of preliminary inquiry and approval before an arrest, which were conditions imposed by the 2018 Supreme Court judgement. The unconditional ban on grant of anticipatory bail has also been restored under the Act.
The pleas against the amendment
The petitions contended that the amendment was violative of Articles 14,19 and 21 as also of the basic structure and hence was liable to be struck down. The petitioners contended that the amendments were made under political pressure and the ban on anticipatory bail was arbitrary and unjust. They further argued that just because someone is born in an upper caste the law cannot presume their guilt for offences under this Act.
The Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra, however, held these amendments to be constitutionally valid.
(the story will be updated when judgment is available)
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