NEW DELHI: The apex court upheld on Monday amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act which restored the law to its earlier rigour.
In 2018, the top court had diluted the SC/ST Act to prevent abuse of stringent provisions by allowing grant of anticipatory bail, sanction of higher authorities for arresting a government servant, and making it mandatory for police to carry out preliminary inquiry to establish prima facie veracity of charges made under the law.
After Parliament carried out amendments to render the SC’s 2018 judgment toothless, the court had taken up petitions seeking review of its ruling. On October 1 last year, the SC recalled its 2018 judgment.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and S R Bhatt said on Monday: “The matter is rendered of academic importance as we had restored the position as prevailed before the 2018 judgment. This means, there will be no provision of anticipatory bail or preliminary inquiry under SC/ST Act as far as arrest is concerned. No sanction would be required for proceeding against a government servant under this law.”
However, the SC said, “A preliminary inquiry is permissible only in circumstances as per the law laid down by a constitution bench of this court in Lalita Kumar case.” It also said though anticipatory bail and regular bail provisions did not apply to cases under the SC/ST Act, the bar created by Section 18A of the SC/ST Act would not apply if the complainant did not make out a prima facie case.
Carving out an exception, the bench said, “The court can, in exceptional cases, exercise power under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code for quashing the case (under SC/ST Act) to prevent misuse of provisions on settled parameters, as already observed while deciding review petitions.”





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