SC/ST Amendment Bill tabled in Lok Sabha

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New Delhi : The government on Friday tabled the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha.

The Bill was tabled by Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot.

The Bill was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Thursday said in the lower House that the Bill would be introduced in Parliament in the ongoing session for consideration and passage.

The government has brought the Bill after the Supreme Court in a ruling in March this year said that a preliminary inquiry was required to arrest any person even under the SC/ST Act.

"The Prime Minister had said if there is any dilution in the Act, we will bring a Bill. And there is no ‘if' and ‘but' in it. He (Modi) had promised it. He also said the government will not allow dilution of SC/ST Act," Singh said.

The Home Minister's remarks come two days after the Union Cabinet decided to restore a provision of the SC/ST Act allowing the arrest of accused persons without a preliminary inquiry or prior approval that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

The preamble of the amendment says that the decision to arrest or not to arrest cannot be taken away from the investigating officer, a power given under the Criminal Procedure Code in which there is no provision for a preliminary inquiry.

Under the new provision, no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering FIRs against the accused and arrest of persons accused under the SC/ST Act and this will not require any approval.

The provision of anticipatory bail shall not be available to the accused notwithstanding any court judgment.