'Amendment to SC/ST Act will be passed in this session'

'Amendment to SC/ST Act will be passed in this session'

 Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday, Aug 2, 2018. (LSTV Grab via PTI)

The Government will get the amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act passed by Parliament during the ongoing monsoon session itself, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha on Thursday. 

The Home Minister made the statement after the Lok Sabha witnessed a brief exchange between the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, and Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan, who heads the ruling BJP’s ally Lok Janashakti Party. 

Speaking during the Zero Hour, Kharge pointed out that the then Congress Government led by Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister had enacted the SC / ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in 1989.

He alleged that the BJP-led government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done nothing to restore the original provisions of the 1989 Act even as four months had passed since the Supreme Court diluted it on March 20.

Paswan interrupted Kharge and questioned him why he was not mentioning the role of V P Singh, who had succeeded Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, in enacting the Act. Kharge responded that while he had no hesitation in giving credit to V P Singh, the Bill had been passed by the Lok Sabha in September 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi had held the office of Prime Minister.

He also pointed out that V P Singh had originally belonged to the Congress and had held the office of Finance Minister when Rajiv Gandhi had been leading the Government. 

Kharge also urged the Government to introduce a Bill in Lok Sabha to amend the Act and thus nullify the effect of the Supreme Court’s March 20 order. 

Home Minister intervened and told the Lok Sabha that a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Wednesday already approved a Bill to amend the SC / ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. 

“I fail to understand why he (Kharge) has raised the issue in the House today. He perhaps came to know that the Union Cabinet already approved the Bill (to amend the Act) yesterday (Wednesday),” Singh said, adding: “We want to get it passed in the current session of Parliament.” 

The Bill to amend the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act seeks to restore the provision in the original law empowering the investigating police officer to arrest the accused if he had reasons to suspect that an offence had been committed. It also seeks to nullify the Supreme Court’s order that introduced safeguards against the arrest of public servants and others under the law and lifted the ban on anticipatory bail.