SC/STs must be protected by special law: Centre

The Union government has maintained before the Supreme Court that notwithstanding welfare measures, various offences, "indignities, humiliations and harassment" continued against the SC/ST communities, who need to be protected by a special law.

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

The government maintained the SC/STs remained vulnerable and they deserve to be protected through 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 for various historical, social and economic reasons. It is reiterated that the government has a constitutional duty to eradicate discrimination, inequality, untouchability etc,” the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said in its 74-page affidavit.

The affidavit is attached below:

 

The Union government filed its response to a PIL filed by Prathvi Raj Chauhan and others, challenging validity of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, notified and enforced in August, after the apex court's verdict triggered protests across the country.

The top court had then directed preliminary inquiry before lodging an FIR and approval from an authority for arrest in complaints made under the SC/ST (PoA) Act, 1989. It had also introduced the provision for anticipatory bail, after noting several instances of misuse of the special law.

Govt denial

The judgement “led to several implications in effective implementation of the Act,” said the government, while maintaining the misuse of a law was no ground to declare the provisions unconstitutional.

“Though abolished and forbidden by Article 17, the practice of ‘untouchability’ persists due to its systemic character. Hence, the Indian Parliament enacted the Amendment Act, 2018 in order to dilute the provisions of the Act in its application,” it said.

The government denied that the amendment was brought to strengthen its vote bank ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

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SC/STs must be protected by special law: Centre

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