SC defers hearing on plea to review SC/ST Act verdict

SC defers hearing on plea to review SC/ST Act verdict

The Supreme Court has refused to pass any interim order on the Centre’s plea to review the March 20 judgement on SC/ST Act.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refrained from passing any order on Centre’s plea to review the March 20 judgement, providing safeguards on the arrest of accused under the SC/ST (Prevention to Atrocities) Act, saying that the people’s right to liberty cannot be taken away even by Parliament.

“We are not living in a civilised society if a sword is hanging on a citizen’s head that he can be put behind the bars on the one-sided complaint. The arrest of people without a just procedure is barred by the Constitution and Parliament,” a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit said.

The court’s observations came as Attorney General K K Venugopal sought review of the judgement, contending the courts cannot supplant and substitute legislation. The judgement, which mandated for conducting an enquiry before the arrest, had caused huge unrest in the country, the government had claimed earlier.

The bench, however, remained unmoved, pointing out that there are about two dozen cases where directions have been issued by the courts.

“In any just society, a fair procedure has to be followed for arrest,” the bench said, adding there has been a judgement stating the right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution which has to be read in each and every provision of the law.

Venugopal said the right to life and liberty has been interpreted very widely which now included the right to food and employment as well. “Even in a welfare state, such things were not possible. Look at the people living on the pavement in the country,” he said.

The court, however, refused to pass any interim order and put the matter for further consideration in July after the summer vacations.

The court asked the attorney general to assist also on a PIL by Bejon Kumar Mishra, seeking probe against those who used intemperate language against the judges for passing the judgement. Notably, Justice Goel, who authored the judgement, is set to retire on July 6.