Paswan meets Shah, seeks ordinance on SC/ST Act

Paswan meets Shah, seeks ordinance on SC/ST Act

Ram Vilas Paswan

NDA ally Ram Vilas Paswan met BJP chief Amit Shah on Sunday and made a strong pitch for bringing an ordinance to restore the original provisions of the law to prevent atrocities against Dalits.

The demand has come in the backdrop of the recent spotlight on Dalit issues.

In his meeting with Shah, the Union minister also told the BJP chief that a high-powered committee led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh had decided that the government will go for the ordinance route if the apex court does not review its March 20 order on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, banning immediate arrest of a person accused of insulting or injuring Dalits.

Paswan told DH, “We met the BJP chief and told him it’s time we bring the ordinance. Shah was positive to our demand.”

The 1989 law has often been criticised for its stringent provisions but its proponents have hailed it as one which helped curb atrocities against Dalits to a significant extent.

Sources said the issue was broached thrice by a Group of Ministers (GoM), which was chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. During the meetings, a number of ministers, including Paswan, felt that in wake of the Supreme Court the judgement, the government should make its stand categorical that there will be no dilution of the law and that it should be presented forcefully before the apex court.

On March 20, a Supreme Court bench had directed that arrests could be made for offences under the Act only after preliminary enquiries by assessing authorities in case of bureaucrats and by senior police officials in case of general public.