Centre will argue with full authority against SC/ST Act's dilution: Prasad

By: | Updated: 02 Apr 2018 02:38 PM
Centre will argue with full authority against SC/ST Act's dilution: Prasad

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (Image: PTI/File)

New Delhi: Amid countrywide protests over the Supreme Court's order to dilute the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said the government will argue the matter with full authority in the apex court for the verdict's reconsidertion.

The Minister also hit out at the Congress for "politicising" the issue and listed the BJP-led government's actions in favour of the marginalised sections, including giving the country a Dalit President.

"Today (Monday), we have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court... It is important to note that the government was not a party in the proceedings at all.

"On behalf of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, every comprehensive review has been filed and the government, with due respect, does not agree with the reasoning given by the apex court," Prasad told reporters in the Parliament House complex.

He said as far as the judgment was concerned, "surely senior lawyers of the government in the apex court will argue this matter with all their legal preparations and authority that this judgment needs to be reconsidered".

Prasad said the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party were committed to the welfare of SCs and STs and alleged that opposition parties, including the Congress, were politicising the issue.

"Some people did politics in the name of Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar but the country knows who gave real respect to Dr Ambedkar. Today, the Congress is shouting. I want to ask them when was Ambedkar given the Bharat Ratna.

"He was awarded the Bharat Ratna by the then V.P. Singh government, supported by the BJP, in 1990. They ruled the country from 1956 to 1989, barring two years of Morarji Desai government. Why was he not given Bharat Ratna? Today, the Congress is questioning us. The BJP has the maximum number of SC/ST MPs and MLAs," the Minister said.

He claimed that the BJP-led government at the Centre and party governments in states were working for the welfare of the backward communities. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment under Thawarchand Gehlot has taken a lot of initiatives for their welfare, Prasad said.

"A very respected Dalit leader was made President of India by the BJP-led government. This is our commitment to the Dalits," he added.

Prasad promised that the Modi government will not temper the reservation benefit extended to the Dalits.

"We wish to emphatically say that the provision of reservation for the Dalits in the said Act is firm and will remain firm. The Modi government has no idea at all of tampering with it, which the Congress is seeking to campaign in the most vicious manner," he said.

On March 20, the Supreme Court ruled that the arrest of an accused under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is not mandatory and a recourse to coercive action would be taken only after preliminary inquiry and sanction by competent authority.

Coupled with this, the court said, there was no absolute bar against grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Act if no prima facie case was made out or where on judicial scrutiny the complaint was found to be prima facie mala fide.

Amid pressure from the National Democratic Alliance partners and protests by the opposition parties, the government on Monday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on the matter.

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First Published: 02 Apr 2018 02:38 PM
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