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SC-ST Atrocities Act Reformed, GoI Continues to Be in Favour of Reservation

An amendment that had to be brought much earlier, has now been passed by the Lok Sabha. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018 attempts to overturn the Supreme Court order for immediate arrest. The amendment bill was introduced by Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot last week.
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The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 has been passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday 6th August 2018, keeping aside the controversial judgement of Supreme Court in the matter of Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan.

Section 18A has been newly inserted in the Act of 1989 by the way of amendment. The Section puts a stay on the unconditional ban on the anticipatory bail granted for any offences under the Act. Also, it took away with the court- imposed requirements of undertaking preliminary inquiry and approval needed prior to making an arrest. The new amendment also overrides any “Judgement or order or direction of any court” if it contains a non-obstante clause to that effect. In addition to this, keeping in mind the directions issued by the Supreme court, the bill assures that no procedure other than that of CrPC shall apply to the offences under the Atrocities Act.

The bill states the principles of Section 41 of the CrPC and Criminal Jurisprudence, “as interpreted in several Judgements”, that once the investigating officer has reasons to suspect the commission of an offence, he can arrest the accused and that “ decision to arrest or not to arrest cannot be taken away from the investigating officer”. The amendment bought in the bill states the purpose and reasons that the procedural formalities of primary enquiry only delays the filing of charge sheet.
On 20th March 2018, In the challenged judgement of Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan, the bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and U.U. Lalit asked for the following changes in the provisions of Act of 1989. These are: 

  1. There shall be no absolute bar against the grant of anticipatory bail in cases of offences under the Atrocities Act, where no case is made out at the first instance or if the complaint found is malafide. Also, It is a notable fact that the Section 18 of the Atrocities Act restricts the application of anticipatory bail under Section 438 of CrPc for any offences committed under the Act of 1989.
  2. In case a Public Servant is to be arrested, he may be arrested with the approval of the appointing authority, a non-public servant or with the approval of that of the S.S.P. 
  3. To confirm that the allegations are not false or frivolous, before lodging the FIR a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by the DSP.

More to these directions, violations of any of these will be made actionable by the disciplinary action and also will be considered as Contempt.

 

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Reviewed by:
Jyoti Yadav
Published on 7th Aug, 2018
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