- NOTING THAT there were “instances of abuse” of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, by “vested interests” for political or personal reasons, the Supreme Court on Tuesday laid down stringent safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” before registering a case under the Act.
Guidelines of the apex court
- To avoid the false implication of an innocent, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous or motivated
- If the accused is a public servant, he can only be arrested with the permission of the appointing authority
- And if the accused is not a public servant, prior permission of the Senior Superintendent of Police of the district will be required.
Referring to NCRB:
- Justifying its decision to allow anticipatory bail where there was no prima facie case, the bench said: “Unless exclusion of anticipatory bail is limited to genuine cases… there will be no protection available to innocent citizens. Thus, limiting the exclusion of anticipatory bail in such cases is essential for protection of fundamental right of life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
- Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh had said that anticipatory bail could be allowed if no prima facie case was made out.
- The bench also referred to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2015, which said that closure reports had been filed in 15-16 per cent of the complaints under the Act.
- And over 75 per cent of such cases taken up by the courts had resulted in acquittals/ withdrawal or compounding of the cases.
Secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution:
- It said the working of the Act “should not result in perpetuating casteism which can have an adverse impact on integration of the society and the constitutional values”. “Secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution. Irrespective of caste or religion, the Constitution guarantees equality in its preamble as well as other provisions including Articles 14-16.
- The Constitution envisages a cohesive, unified and casteless society. We are thus of the view that interpretation of the Atrocities Act should promote constitutional values of fraternity and integration of the society. This may require a check on false implication of innocent citizens on caste lines,” it ruled.
Source: Indian Express