Govt questioned on appointing judge who diluted SC/ST Act as NGT chief
New Delhi, July 26: The opposition to the appointment of a former Supreme Court judge who was part of a bench that had "diluted" a law on atrocities against SCs STs as National Green Tribunal chairman, today echoed in Parliament with the Congress saying it indicated the BJP-led government's support to his judgement.
The leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge and his party colleague K Suresh raised the issue in Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour, with the latter alleging that Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was close to a right-wing outfit and had given the judgement under its pressure.
The government has "rewarded" him for this, Suresh claimed, as BJP's Anurag Thakur protested his comments.
Goel was one of the two apex court judges on a bench that introduced several safeguards in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Dalit bodies and almost all major political parties have said the judgement has "diluted and weakened the law". The government appointed him as the NGT chairman immediately after he retired from the top court early this month.
Kharge said Goel's appointment indicated that the government supported his judgement.
Suresh said the development has sent out a wrong message and Dalits have been demanding his removal.
He also referred to the reported opposition to Goel's appointment by Dalit MPs of the ruling NDA and Union Minister and BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan's letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh against it.
Paswan, who was present in the House, appeared to be gesturing to speak but did not. He was seen speaking to Suresh later and also called union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, a Dalit member of the BJP, for some deliberations.
Kharge also raised the issue of the UGC's directive that different departments of a university be treated as separate units for implementing quota for different communities, instead of the entire educational institution.
It is causing a lot of harm to the SCs, STs and OBCs, he said, wondering, "Do you want to end reservation?".
Intervening in the matter, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government has already directed stoppage of implementation of this UGC decision and also filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court, as the directive was an outcome of a court's verdict.
He also underlined the NDA government's commitment to reservation, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often asserted that even a 'full stop' and 'coma' in the current quota rules would not be changed.