Govt poser to SC on bail in SC/ST cases

Govt poser to SC on bail in SC/ST cases

The Supreme Court

The Centre on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to determine if denial of anticipatory bail to the accused in view of large-scale acquittal in cases of atrocities against the SC/ST members would amount to taking away liberty without procedure established by law.

“Does Section 18 A of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, (related to preliminary inquiry and anticipatory bail) violate the basic structure theory, especially once the will of the people is expressed through legislation unanimously passed by the Indian Parliament in bringing the amendment Act?” a note furnished by the Union government stated.

“In view of social attitudes leading to offences against the SC/ST community members, is it not that the legislature has the power to exclude the provision of anticipatory bail to the accused?” it stated.

The note explained the issues that need to be determined by the top court in examining the validity of fresh amendment brought into the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to surpass the apex court’s ruling on the special law.

A bench presided over by Justice A K Sikri put a PIL filed by Prithvi Raj Chauhan and others, challenging the validity of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, for consideration in January 2019.

The court asked the petitioners’ counsel to submit their own note on the issues to be adjudicated.

In an affidavit, the Centre had earlier defended the amendment brought in the law to address a top court’s judgement of March 20 that diluted the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The government maintained that the SC/ST members remained vulnerable and they deserve to be protected by making stringent penal provisions.

“They are denied a number of civil rights. They have, in several brutal incidents, been deprived of their life and property. Serious crimes are committed against them,” the Ministry said in its affidavit.

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