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Centre demands stay of Supreme Court order on SC/ST Act

By Deepika

The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Centre it is "100 per cent" in favour of protecting the rights of people belonging to those communities and those guilty of atrocities against them shall be punished.

Supreme Court

The observations by a bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit came after the Centre, represented by Attorney General K K Venugopal, sought a stay on the Supreme Court order in the matter.

He said the apex court cannot make rules or guidelines which go against the law passed by the legislature. Venugopal also pointed out that the SC/ST verdict had resulted in loss of life and the case be referred to a larger bench.

The government also urged the court to send its review petition to a larger bench. The argument in the matter will continue on May 16.

Justifying its March 20 order, the bench said while deciding on the verdict on the SC/ST Act, the top court had considered every aspect and all the judgements before reaching a conclusion. The bench said it was "100 per cent" in favour of protecting rights of SC/ST community and of punishing those guilty of atrocities against them.

The Centre had moved the apex court on April 2 seeking review of its judgment by which safeguards were put on the provisions for immediate arrest under the SC/ST Act.

The government, in its review petition, has told the apex court that its judgment will violate Article 21 of the Constitution for the SC/ST communities and sought restoration of the provisions of the Act.

The top court had ruled that the arrest of an accused under the SC/ST Act is not mandatory and a recourse to coercive action would be taken only after preliminary inquiry and sanction by a competent authority.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the government would argue the matter with full authority in the top court and appeal for reconsideration.

In the last hearing on April 27, the court had said that it would hear the Centre's plea on May 3 after Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that in compliance of the court's April 3 order, all parties have submitted their written submissions. The court has already made it clear that it will not entertain any other petition in the matter.

The apex court had on March 20 said that on "several occasions", innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the SC/ST Act.

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