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The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Central Government in a batch of petitions challenging the recent amendment to the Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act , 1989 (‘SC/ST Act’).
Refusing to stay the operation of the amendment, the Court asked Central Government to file its reply to the petitions within six weeks.
The petitions were listed before a Division Bench comprising Justice A K Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan.
By this amendment passed in August, Section 18A was inserted into the SC/ST Act to re-instate the law as it stood prior to the the apex Court’s judgement passed earlier this year. The verdict had mandated prior sanction of appointing authority to prosecute officers under the SC/ST Act in their official capacity. The judgement had also held that there was no absolute bar on the grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Act if no prima facie case is made out.
The verdict had resulted in nation-wide protests which forced the Central Government to prefer a review petition against it before Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit .
While this review petition is pending, the Central Government passed an amendment earlier this month, to undo the impact of the judgement.
The Petition by Advocates Prithvi Raj Chauhan and Priya Sharma seeks to challenge the “arbitrary manner” in which the Central Government altered the directions issued by the Court in the SC/ST judgement “after examining all the relevant facts and data” on the Act.
The Petition further states that the SC/ST Act has become “an instrument of blackmail“, and is “prone to misuse on account of monetary incentive and to exact vengeance and satisfy vested interest”.
Read the petition below.