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Paswan calls for inclusion of SC/ST Act, Dalit quotas in 9th Schedule


Patna, Apr 9: Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday favoured inclusion of the SC/ST Act and reservations for Dalits in Ninth Schedule of the Constitution so that they cannot be challenged in a court of law. Laws under the Ninth Schedule are beyond the purview of judicial review.

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan

The Supreme Court, however, in 2007 had ruled that any law placed in the Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973, would be subject to scrutiny of courts if they violated fundamental rights.

"I would also urge the government to consider inclusion of the SC/ST Act and the reservations in the Ninth Schedule so that there remains no possibility of anybody challenging them in a court of law," Paswan told reporters.

Paswan, also the Lok Janshakti Party chief, charged the opposition parties such as the Congress, the RJD and the BSP with trying to derive political mileage out of the anxieties of Dalits following dilution of the SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court.

"I fully understand what the Dalits must be feeling in the wake of the Supreme Court order. But I would request them to rest assured that the matter will be dealt with," he said.

The Supreme Court had on March 20 "diluted" the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, ruling that government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens too, can be arrested only after an inquiry.

"I have no objection to Dalit youths taking part in agitations but they must not indulge in violence. But, I have serious problem with opposition political parties trying to derive political mileage out of the issue," he said.

Paswan was referring to the April 2 Bharat Bandh called by Dalit and tribal organisations, and supported by many opposition parties, which had resulted in large-scale violence in states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

"The Narendra Modi government is in need of building a pro-Dalit image. Late Prime Minister VP Singh had built for himself the image of a messiah of the downtrodden though he did not belong to a poor family nor from a backward caste, unlike Modi," Paswan said.

The Modi government has done more for the betterment of Dalits in 48 months than the Congress could do in 48 years, he said adding, "Only, we do not go around publicly declaring our pro-Dalit moves unlike the Congress."

"The Congress is always quick to shed crocodile tears on every public issue. Just look at today's fast of Rahul Gandhi, whose partymen enjoyed sumptuous breakfasts before taking part in the farce," he claimed.

Paswan also targeted the BSP and the RJD for their alleged anti-Dalit moves.


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