SC/ST ruling led to damage and disharmony

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In his written submission, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said that through the judgement, the top court has not filled the gaps in the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, but rather amended it through judicial legislation.

The government plans an ordinance to keep the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe act "unchanged" in case the Supreme Court does not reverse a recent judgment that many Dalits alleged diluted the law safeguarding them, two Union ministers said on Friday.

SC/ST ruling led to damage and disharmony

Asking the apex court to recall the directions it issued, the government said the case deals with an "issue of very sensitive nature that has caused a lot of commotion in the country & is also creating anger, unease and a sense of disharmony".

The Centre's submission came in the backdrop of several states being rocked by violence and clashes on April 2 following a "Bharat Bandh" call given by several SC/ST organisations protesting the top court's March 20 order, which claimed at least eight lives and injured hundreds. It triggered a row and the Centre has since filed a review in the SC while Congress and other opposition parties accused the Centre of being slack in court.

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A bench of Justices A.K. Goel and Uday Lalit had then observed: "There is no dilution of any provision of the SC/ST Act relating to compensation, trial, pu-nishment or otherwise". It held that a public servant can only be arrested after approval of the appointing authority. "No relief can be given to the SC/ST community without protecting the fundamental rights of an innocent person", Justice Goel had said. It said when it was Parliament's mandate to grant protection to dalits against atrocities, there was no reason for the court to dilute this and act contrary to the provisions. "I want to assure the country that the law, which was made stringent by us, will not be allowed to be affected (by the SC order)".

According to media reports, the Centre has also said that the apex court's verdict has damaged the country's harmony. "Provisions of the Act can not be used to terrorise the innocents", the court said. This Act seeks to stop people from committing such oppression and providing victims with special rights and privileges.

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