The Supreme Court Friday decided to hear next week the Centre’s plea seeking review of its March 20 verdict on the SC/ST Act but made it clear that it would not entertain any other petition in the matter.
Attorney General K K Venugopal mentioned the matter before a bench comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Deepak Gupta and sought listing of the case. He told the bench that he had already filed his written submission.
“The last line of your last order says that list the matter after written submission is filed. I have filed my written submission. Four states have also filed review petitions. Please give us a date,” Venugopal told the bench.
In his written submission filed in the apex court, the Attorney General has said that the verdict has “diluted” the stringent provisions of the Act, resulting in “great damage” to the country by causing anger and a sense of disharmony among the people.
Justice Goel said the matter would be heard in the next week. “You tell us when it is convenient for you. It will have to be in the next week,” the bench observed after which the matter was fixed for hearing on May 3.
However, one of the advocates informed the bench that a number of petitions have already been filed in the case.
“We are not entertaining any other petition,” the bench said, adding, “it is the same issue. When the Attorney General is here, you all assist him”.
The Centre had moved the apex court on April 2 seeking review of its judgement by which safeguards were put on the provisions for immediate arrest under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989,
The government, in its review petition, has told the apex court that its judgement would violate Article 21 of the Constitution for the SC/ST communities and sought restoration of the provisions of the Act.
The apex court had on March 20 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.
Several states were rocked by wide spread violence and clashes following a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by several SC/ST organisations protesting the top court’s March 20 order, that claimed eight lives.
While hearing the Centre’s review plea on April 3, the top court had asserted that “no provisions of SC/ST Act have been diluted” and clarified that additional safeguards had been put in place “to protect the fundamental rights” of innocents.
It, however, had refused to keep the March 20 verdict in abeyance till it decided the Centre’s review petition. PTI