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SC refers central government’s plea to review ruling on SC/ST Act to larger bench

SC order intended to prevent misuse of law seen working against community, says govt.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Sep 14, 2019, 07.29 AM IST
The top court had said that if any wrong has been done in the judgement, then it can always be corrected in the review petition.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a larger bench a plea by the central government to review its order of March 2018 that created a mechanism to prevent misuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which had sparked fears among the community about possible dilution of the law.

A bench led by Justice Arun Mishra referred the issue to a threejudge bench, which will hear the review plea next week. The 2018 ruling by a bench led by retired Justice AK Goel had created a mechanism comprising senior police officials to ensure that no false cases were registered and no innocent people were harassed.

The bench had said that an FIR could be registered only if the highpowered panel approved it. The panel was mandated to take a decision within a week.


The top court justified its order, citing widespread misuse of the law to harass people. Every citizen’s right to life, liberty and reputation was precious, the court had said. No one can be harassed by filing a false case, the court had said.

The decision sparked an agitation by Dalit groups and organisations over what they alleged was a dilution of the law. They cited the low conviction rate to claim that this would further tone down the rigour of the law and encourage violence against them.

Taking note of their claims, the Central government appealed for a review of the court’s ruling. The court had initially dug in its heels to say that hadn’t diluted the law in any way and had only created a mechanism to prevent misuse.

However, it later agreed to review its ruling. A bench comprising Justice UU Lalit, who was part of the earlier bench, reviewed its decision on Friday only to refer it to a larger bench.

The three-judge bench will address the concerns of the community and the central government on its earlier ruling and decide whether to recall or modify it to allay their fears by next week.
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