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Last Updated : Aug 01, 2018 08:42 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Cabinet gives nod to bill to restore provisions of Dalit atrocity law

The bill to restore the original provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act will be brought in Parliament.

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to a bill to restore the original provisions of a law on atrocities against Dalits and tribals, acceding to a key demand of Dalit groups ahead of their call for a 'Bharat Bandh' on August 9, a top government source said.

The bill to restore the original provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act will be brought in Parliament, he said.

The Supreme Court in a ruling in March had introduced safeguards which, Dalit leaders and organisations said, diluted the Act and rendered it toothless.

BJP ally and Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan had led the call to bring a new law to overturn the court order. Several ruling party MPs belonging to Dalit and tribal communities had also backed the demand.

According to the earlier implementation of the law, individuals could be arrested immediately after an FIR was filed against them for committing atrocities on people from the SC/ST communities.

However, on March 20, the apex court said that on "several occasions", innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the SC/ST Act.

The top court had put a bar on arrests immediately after a FIR was registered. The bench also said that an individual can be arrested only after the police conduct a preliminary enquiry into the complaint within seven days.

The judgement had also stated that a person can be released on an anticipatory bail unless there is a prima facie case of a crime or atrocity. In case of a public servant, prosecution can be carried out only after the appointing authority grants prior sanction.

Leaders of various Dalit organisations had been demanding that the government should bring in an ordinance to restore status quo of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Centre had earlier told the Supreme Court that its judgement on the SC/ST Act in March had "diluted" provisions of the law, which resulted in "great damage" to the country. The government had also said that it would take steps to correct it.

(With PTI inputs)
First Published on Aug 1, 2018 03:23 pm
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