Challenge to SC/ST Amendment Act: Supreme Court to begin hearing on March 26

Challenge to SC/ST Amendment Act: Supreme Court to begin hearing on March 26

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today said that it will begin hearing the batch of review petitions and writ petitions in relation to the recently amended Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act [SC/ST Amendment Act] on March 26.

The main review petition along with all the connected matters was listed for hearing before the Bench of Justices UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra today.

The Court asked Attorney General KK Venugopal and Senior Advocates Indira Jaising and Mohan Parasaran, representing various parties in the case, the duration required by them for making their submissions.

The Court then proceeded to assign at least three days for hearing the case starting from March 26.

A batch of petitions challenging the SC/ST Amendment Act, as well as a Supreme Court decision, will be heard together by the Bench of Justices Lalit and Malhotra.

One of the petitions, filed by the Centre, seeks a review of the Supreme Court decision rendered by the Bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit in Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra.

This verdict had made it imperative for prior sanction to be sought before prosecuting an officer for a complaint under the SC/ST Act. The judgment was met with nationwide protests, as it was felt that the judgment “dilutes” the provisions of the Act.

Parliament had, in August 2018, brought in an amendment to the SC/ST Act inserting additional provisions that effectively reversed the effect of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

Petitions challenging this amendment are also tagged with the review petition, and will be heard together.

While hearing the Centre’s review petition last year, the Court had stated that it had only reiterated the settled law of arrest while passing the controversial judgment. It had refused to stay its judgment, while observing so.

After the Centre introduced the SC/ST Amendment Act, the same was challenged in the Supreme Court. The petition filed by Advocates Prithvi Raj Chauhan and Priya Sharma assails the “arbitrary manner” in which the Centre altered the directions issued by the Court in the SC/ST judgement “after examining all the relevant facts and data” on the Act.

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