A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices A K Sikri, Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah today, January 24, 2019, refused to stay the operation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 which had reversed the effect of the Supreme Court’s judgment dated March 20, 2018 diluting the stringent provisions of the SC/ST Act, 1989 such as no anticipatory bails and preliminary enquiries in the cases of atrocities reported under the SC/ST Act, 1989.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Vikas Singh vehemently pleaded for the stay of the amendment act. However, his plea did not find favour from the bench which said stay could not be granted without hearing the case at length.
The said Amendment Act, 2018 revived the preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a FIR against any person; or the Investigating Officer shall not require approval for the arrest, if necessary, of any person; against whom an accusation has been made. Also, the provisions of anticipatory bail would not be applicable in the offences registered under the SC/ST Act, 1989.
Attorney General for India K K Venugopal informed the Court that a review petition against the Supreme Court is pending considering before the Supreme Court, and therefore, court may await the outcome of the review petition, before deciding the validity of the Amendment Act to SC/ST Act, 1989.
At this juncture, senior advocate Indira Jaising appearing for one the respondents strenuously objected to the request of stay of the Amendment Act, as demanded by the counsel for the Petitioner. She further submitted three questions of law before the Court for determination that arose from the petition challenging the said amendment. They are:
- What is the impact of the amendment to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 upon the Review Petition (Criminal) No. 228 of 2018 filed against the Judgment dated 20.03.2018?
- What is the impact of the amendment upon the cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 between 20th March, 2018 to 7th August, 2018?
- Whether the amendment to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is with retrospective effect?
After a brief hearing, the Supreme Court proceed to decide that both the review petition and as well the petition challenging Amendment Act to SC/ST, 1989 may be heard together. Court granted the liberty to the parties to the case to mention the matter before the CJI to this effect.
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