BJP's 'SC Morcha' chief Vinod Kumar Sonkar insisted that the government would ensure that no harm was done to the interests of the community
PTI, NEW DELHI: A group of BJP's Dalit MPs, who today met Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said they would meet party chief Amit Shah to press for a review petition against a Supreme Court order, which dilutes a law covering cases of atrocities against scheduled castes and tribes.
BJP's 'SC Morcha' chief Vinod Kumar Sonkar, who is also a Lok Sabha member, told PTI that they met Prasad and would meet Shah, and insisted that the government would ensure that no harm was done to the interests of the community.
Prasad told a press conference that the government was examining the apex court's judgement and would give a structured response to it in the coming days.
Some MPs said on the condition of anonymity that the only way out for the government was to file a review petition in the court as the issue had the potential to become a political hot potato for the saffron party, which had been wooing Dalits.
Expressing concern over misuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court on Tuesday introduced the provision of anticipatory bail and ruled against automatic arrest of the accused booked under the law.
Several BJP leaders said it would work against the interests of Dalits with one of them saying that several laws were misused but it should not result in diluting them and that atrocities against Dalits remained a serious issue in vast parts of the country.
Bizay Sonkar Shastri, a Dalit leader from the BJP and its spokesperson, said it was a serious issue, more so as 90 per cent of criminal cases resulted in the acquittal of accused and the order would further weaken the law.
He recalled that the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati in 2002 had passed an order asking police invoke the SC/ST Act in serious cases only and claimed that he as the then chairperson of the SC and ST Commission had played a role in pressuring her to withdraw the decision.
"The Supreme Court's order more dangerous than that," he said.
Shastri said BJP leaders had met non-SC/ST lawmakers in Parliament as well and they were also sympathetic to their plea.
Dalit body criticises SC verdict on SC/ST Act
PTI, NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court's verdict diluting stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act has drawn criticism from a Dalit organisation which said it would lead to "great miscarriage of justice".
Expressing its concern over the top court's March 20 verdict, the National Executive Committee of the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch(DSMM) has urged the Centre to file a review petition so that the Act remained effective.
"The dilution in the stringency of the Act will lead to great miscarriage of justice. It must be remembered that in many cases the accused are government servants and officials. "Government offices and departments are sites of discrimination and injustice to SCs and STs (schedule castes and schedule tribes). The police also has a record of committing grave crimes against these sections of society," it said.
"We, therefore, appeal to the Government of India to file a review petition to nullify the changes sought to be made by the apex court. The central and state governments must make all efforts to strictly implement the provisions of the Act. "We also request all progressive and democratic minded people and law makes and intellectuals to oppose the dilution of the provisions of this Act," DSMM said. It said that the Supreme Court has most unfortunately modified Section 18 of the Act in the name of "misuse".
"The truth is that in cases of atrocities against SCs and STs not only is the conviction rate very low but there is delay at every stage from filing charge sheets to proceeding with the matters in court," the organisation said.
The apex court had on March 20 taken note of the rampant misuse of the stringent Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against government servants and held that there shall be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.