New Delhi, February 10: The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutional validity of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018. The amendments rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order, and requirement of a preliminary enquiry before framing charges under the Act.
In 2018, taking note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and private individuals, the Supreme Court had ruled that there would be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law. The apex court's ruling trigerred widespread violent protests in which several persons lost their lives and many were injured. Subsequently, Parliament on August 9 last year had passed the bill to overturn the apex court March 20, 2018 judgement.
Later, the Centre had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking review of its March 2018 judgement. On October 1, 2019, the apex court restored the erstwhile law by recalling two directions in the March 2018 verdict, which provided no absolute bar on grant of anticipatory bail and prior inquiry before effecting arrest of public servants and private individuals under the Act. Pleas were also filed in the top court against the amendments brought by the government.
A bench comprised of justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and Justice Ravindra Bhat pronounced its judgment on these pleas, upholding the validity of 2018 amendments to The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Centre had inserted Section 18A to nullify conduct of a preliminary enquiry before registration of an FIR, or to seek approval of any authority prior to arrest of an accused, and to restore the provisions of Section 18 of the Act.