Chennai: Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today expressed hope that the Supreme Court “will not dilute” the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and said the Centre would take the ordinance route to ensure that there was no change in the legislation.
“The government is committed (for the welfare of SC/ST) and we hope the Supreme Court will not dilute the SC/ST Act and what is in the Act will remain,” Mr Paswan said.
“If there will be any dilution, then government will bring ordinance and we will see that nothing is changed,” the Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister told reporters after participating in a review meeting with officials of the Food Corporation of India here.
The apex court had on March 20 said that on “several occasions”, innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the SC/ST Act.
Several north Indian states were rocked by widespread violence and clashes following a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by many Dalit organisations protesting the top court’s March 20 order.
Eight persons were killed in the clashes.
The Centre had moved the apex court on April 2 seeking review of its judgement by which safeguards were put on the provisions for immediate arrest under the SC/ST Act.
But the court refused to keep its March 20 verdict in abeyance till it decided the Centre’s review petition. The next hearing on the Centre’s review petition is scheduled on May 16.
Mr Paswan said suggestions on safeguards against arrest was made by the Mayawati-led BSP government in Uttar Pradesh in 2007.
The then UP government had issued an order that FIR cannot be lodged unless a police authority recommended, following reports of misuse of the SC/ST Act, he claimed.
Mr Paswan said, more ‘offences’ have been included in the SC/ST Act after the NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over in 2014.
The government could opt for the ordinance route also on the issue of reservation in promotion for SC/ST, he said.
At present, there was a court case in this regard, he added.
Earlier, Mr Paswan held a meeting with officials of FCI and reviewed its functioning. He also held discussions with Tamil Nadu government officials over the implementation of the National Food Security Act.
On the NEET issue, Mr Paswan said that he has taken up with the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development, the issue of allotment of centres in other states for some of the candidates.