Parliament passes bill to restore SC/ST Act
New Delhi : The Rajya Sabha on Thursday unanimously passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, which seeks to overturn a Supreme Court order that struck down the provision for immediate arrest of the accused booked under the Act.
Since the Lok Sabha has already passed the bill, it is set to become a law following the President's assent.
Replying to the discussion on the bill, Social Justice Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot said that the Narendra Modi government was committed to the welfare of the Dalits and the weaker sections and stressed that it had not brought the bill "under any pressure".
The bill provides that an Investigating Officer will not require the approval of any authority for the arrest of the accused booked under the SC/ST Act. Further, it provides that a preliminary inquiry will not be required for the registration of an FIR against those accused under the Act.
On March 20, the Supreme Court ruled that to arrest persons accused of committing an offence under the said Act, approval of the concerned Senior Superintendent of Police will be required. Further, a Deputy Superintendent of Police may conduct a preliminary inquiry to find out whether prima facie a case is made out under the Act.
The bill says that persons accused of committing an offence under the proposed Act cannot apply for anticipatory bail. It seeks to clarify that this provision will apply despite any judgments or orders of a court that provide otherwise.
Gehlot said that the provision of special courts has also been included and 14 states have already established 195 special courts for this purpose.
Under the new law, the investigation has to be completed and charge sheet filed within 60 days.