The government will explore all legal options after the Supreme Court takes a call on the review petition that the government filed on April 2 against the court’s March 20 judgment, which triggered
nationwide Dalit protests.
New Delhi: The government plans an ordinance to keep the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe act “unchanged” in
case the Supreme Court does not reverse a recent judgment that many Dalits alleged diluted the law
safeguarding them, two Union ministers said on Friday.
According to consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party, the
government hopes the top court would revoke its verdict.
“The SC/ST act is a special act. We hope the Supreme Court will take note of the fact that the SC/ST
act is a special law. We are determined to maintain the status of the law as it was enacted. If it calls
for bringing an ordinance it will be done,” the Bihar politician said.
Another senior minister, requesting anonymity, said necessary steps will be taken in this regard.
“We felt that the government’s law officers could not effectively and clearly put the Centre’s views on
this before the court when the matter was being heard,” the minister said.
According to a government source, the issue was discussed at a meeting of senior ministers and bureaucrats
on Wednesday that home minister Rajnath Singh chaired. The source wasn’t authorised to be quoted
by name and demanded anonymity.
All legal options will be explored only after the Supreme Court takes a call on the review petition that
the government filed on April 2 against the March 20 judgment, which triggered nationwide Dalit protests
. At least a dozen people were killed in clashes between protesters, police and people opposing
a general strike called by Dalits against the court ruling on April 2.
A day after the meeting, the Centre urged the Supreme Court to recall its March 20 verdict banning
automatic arrests and registration of cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention
of Atrocities) Act, 1989, saying the ruling had done “great damage” by giving rise to anger among the
people the law was meant to protect.
Written submissions drafted by attorney general KK Venugopal and submitted to the court on Thursday
support the review petition filed by the Centre against the judgment, which made a “preliminary
enquiry” of a complaint under the law mandatory before the registration of a first information report
(FIR) by the police.