LS okays bill to nullify order on anti-atrocities act

The Lok Sabha. PTI file photo

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill to restore the provision of the anti-atrocities law that allows the arrest of an accused without preliminary inquiry or prior approval, a provision that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Buckling under pressure from Dalit rights group, the Union Cabinet had approved the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities), Amendment Bill, last week and presented it before the Lok Sabha on Monday. Dalit organisations have threatened nationwide protests on Thursday against the rising incidents of atrocities against SC/STs across the country.

During the six-hour debate in the Lok Sabha, members cutting across party line demanded that the anti-atrocities law be placed under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution thus keeping it out of bounds from judicial scrutiny.

Participating in the debate, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge rejected the claims made by the Modi government the original anti-atrocities law was passed in 1989 by a government headed by the then prime minister V P Singh.

Kharge said the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was passed on September 11, 1989, by a Congress government led by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Kharge said the government was forced to bring the Bill to Parliament at it was staring at electoral setbacks due to its failure to respond quickly to the apex court judgment of March 20 that diluted the law.

Members cutting across party lines also demanded that the government order withdrawal of cases registered against those involved in the nationwide protests on April 2 and 3 in which 12 persons were killed.

Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha wanted the government to also overturn the Supreme Court judgement capping reservations at 50% and follow the Tamil Nadu example in accommodating all communities under quotas.

Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot rejected the accusations of delay and hit back at the opposition for creating doubts about the government's intention in the matter.

“Historically, since the days of the Jana Sangh (BJP's predecessor) we have been in favour of reservations and we will continue to support it,” Gehlot said

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LS okays bill to nullify order on anti-atrocities act

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