Apex court refuses to stay amendments to SC/ST Act


The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the proposed amendments to the SC\/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that rest-ored the Parliament in August had passed the Bill to overturn the apex court order that laid down certain safeguards against arrest under the Act. Apart from seeking a declaration that the new amendments are beyond powers, the petitions also want the new amendments to the atrocities law be declared as ultra vires. A bench led by Justice AK Sikri, referring the matter to the Chief Justice for reconstitution of a bench which will have Justice UU Lalit as one of its judges, said the petitions against the new amendment will be taken up with the pending review petition filed by the Centre. The government in April had sought review of the apex court It held that a public servant can be arrested in cases filed under the SC\/ST Act only after getting prior approval of the competent authority. READ ALSO | Attorney General KK Venugopal asked the bench to first decide the review petition and only after that fresh petitions against the amendments could be heard. However, senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the petitioners, questioned the Central government on bringing new law when its review petition was already pending before the top court. The Centre had moved the apex court seeking that the matter be addressed by the court in an open hearing, saying, In a written submission, the government had stated that the SC has been misled into thinking it has the power to legislate while diluting the arrest provision in SC\/ST Act Venugopal also questioned the direction for seeking prior approval of the appointing authority in case of public servant and the SSP in case of private citizens before arrest on a complaint filed under the SC\/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

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