Ahead of assembly elections, taking into consideration of growing dissent among upper castes against BJP regime, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has started taking steps to please them. As a first step, today he directed that there will be no no arrests will be made in the state without investigation under SC/ST Act. His decision is said to be intended to dilute the very spirit of the act, which was intended to ensure immediate justice to victims.
The announcement flies in the face of a concerted move by the Centre to nullify a Supreme Court ruling in March this year which angered the SCs and STs because they saw it as a dilution of the law meant for their safety. That ruling allowed provisions for anticipatory bail to an accused, a preliminary enquiry before registration of a case under the Act, and prior sanction by a superior officer before effecting an arrest.
Chief Minister’s announcement came following upper caste protesters gave a call yesterday to gherao the Chief Minister’s residence, Chouhan took to Twitter to announce: “MP mein nahi hoga SC-ST Act ka durupyog, bina jaanch ke nahi hogi giraftari (MP will not allow misuse of the SC/ST Act, no one will be arrested without an investigation).” Earlier, he told reporters that everyone’s right will be protected in the state.
The Chief Minister’s promise of not allowing “misuse” of the Act coincided with predecessor Babulal Gaur’s assertion that the Supreme Court ruling on the SC/ST law was correct and justified, and the government should follow it. Gaur said the “people’s anger” was against MPs who favoured the amendments, and not against the BJP. Referring to the Mahabharat, he said it happened “because Bhishma Pitamah chose to remain silent when Draupadi was being stripped”.