The Vileness Behind The SC-ST(PoA)Amendment Act



The brewing anger among the ‘ general’ category castes is not  so much  against  Reservations,rather it is against the snatching away of their   right to equality and dignity of life by the recent amendments made to the SC-ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act 1989.

Everyone recognises the need to have reservations of seats in educational and political institutions  for the SC-STs.There might be just  demands for the exclusion of creamy layer from the ambit of these benefits,but these quotas have been accepted as proper penance by the society for perpetuating the collective sin of untouchability.( I am not discussing the morality of OBC reservation here).Those raising slogans against Sc-St reservations and demanding exclusion of creamy layer are infact weakening the fight against the SC-ST Amendment Act.These people have their own axes to grind and are now demanding reservations for the economically backwards among all sections  ,which is a wholly perverse idea from the outset.

The Supreme Court of India is  trusted by the whole  country  to deliver  fair and impartial judgements in matters related to Section 377,Ram Temple,Adhar among others and oversee probes in 2G and Coalgate.They have  gradually issued guidelines regarding arrest provisions in cases related to Section 498,IPC (dowry) and Secton 376 ,IPC (rape).The once draconian arrest provisions have been made humane by their  intervention.The Apex Court’s wisdom  can be relied upon for everything,but not it seems  with matters dealing with the SC-ST Act ,1989 .Why should the Parliament have overruled the very just and humane Court guidelines issued in March 2018 and pass an Amendment Act for this purpose ?

Is it that the Courts were not aware of the consequences of their recommendations ?

Were they not sensitive enough to the atrocities faced by the SC-STs ?

Nothing explains the vehemence with which all political parties joined hands to pass this amendment act,while they have generally gone along with Supreme Court’s guidelines wrt arrest in 498 and 376.SC-STs are potent votebanks,women are not monolithic for that matter.Or maybe,there is no country for women.

IN March 2018,a  two-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled that there were “instances of abuse” of the SC-ST (PoA) Act ,1989  by “vested interests” for political or personal reasons.  It, thereafter, laid down guidelines for arrests under the Act “to avoid false implications”.

The court said –

1.)a Preliminary Enquiry may be conducted by a DSP to ensure allegations are not “frivolous or motivated” before a case is registered.

2.) It added that a public servant if accused can be only arrested with the Permission of the Appointing Authority.

3.) Others can be arrested only after permission is granted from the Senior Superintendent of Police of the district.  The SSP will have to record in writing the reason for granting permission and hand it to the accused and the concerned court.

4.) There shall be no absolute bar against the grant of Anticipatory Bail in case of an offence under the Atrocities Act, where no prima facie case is made out or if the complaint is found to be malafide; Section 18 of the Act excluded  the application of Section  438 CrPC specifically.This is was sought to be remedied by the Court.

The Parliament felt that procedural formalities of preliminary enquiry and approval would only delay the filing of a charge sheet,and the allowance of Anticipatory Bail conflicted with the idea of social justice.In their wisdom ,they amended the law.

The SC-ST Amendment Act,2018 seeks to insert three new clauses to Section 18 of the original Act,via section 18A-

1.)  The first stating the purposes of the Act that, a Preliminary Enquiry by a DSP shall not be required for registration of an FIR.

2.) The arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval of any authority.

3.)The provisions of Section 438 of the CrPC which deals with anticipatory bail, shall not apply to a case under this Act, “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court”.


Thus Section 18A has been inserted in the Act of 1989, which does away with the court-imposed requirements of undertaking preliminary inquiry ,and of procuring approval prior to making an arrest.It restores the unconditional ban on the grant of anticipatory bail in the event of arrest.

A government employee gets suspended from service if he is detained in police custody for 24-48 hours (depending upon states and centre).It is because of the presence of this service  rule,that the mandatory arrest provision becomes a dangerous weapon in the hands of miscreants.Any disgruntled member of a weaker section can harass,blackmail and ruin a non-SC/ST public servant’s life merely by lodging a complaint with the police.FIR and arrest have to necessary follow,AB is not possible and it is unlikely that bail could be easily secured in two days. It is easy to argue that if he is not in the wrong,the accused person would eventually come out unscathed,and his suspension would be revoked.But one must ask the question if the local police cant even be trusted to make preliminary enquiries and take crucial decisions,and decide if the filed case has any merit or  arrest is warranted ? If nothing else,then atleast the DOPT /GoI must do away with this suspension clause.One cannot just invite trouble,one must rather keep away from doldrums.

The Leaders of the general castes’ movement must focus on issues that matter-like the amendment act,and not waste time,energy and goodwill on frivolous issues like reservation (which wont ever go away ).



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