Cabinet clears bill to restore arrest provisions of SC/ST Act

Following all-out pressures from the opposition, Dalit groups and its allies, including few cabinet ministers and also BJP Dalit MPs, Modi government is forced to restore a provision of the SC/ST Act allowing arrest of an accused without preliminary enquiry or prior approval that was recently struck down by the Supreme Court.

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018 to amend the original law of 1989 was approved by the Union Cabinet and is likely to be introduced in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament to make it a law.

The preamble of the amendment says that the decision to arrest or not to arrest cannot be taken away from the investigating officer, a power given under the criminal procedure code in which there is no provision for a preliminary enquiry.

Under the new provision, no preliminary enquiry will be required for registering an FIR against an accused and arrest of a person accused under the SC/ST act and this will not require any approval. The provision of anticipatory bail shall not be available to an accused notwithstanding any court judgement.

This Bill was needed after the Supreme Court court on March 20 struck down the provision that made immediate arrest of an accused under the 1989 law mandatory. The court said any arrest would be made only after a preliminary probe and prior approval of by an officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.


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