On Dalit Atrocities Law, Government To Ask Supreme Court For A Rethink

Maintaining that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act law was being misused, the Supreme Court order changed two of its key provisions last week. Dalit lawmakers have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene

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On Dalit Atrocities Law, Government To Ask Supreme Court For A Rethink

A delegation of Dalit lawmakers met Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday.


New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office has stepped in to help resolve the concerns of Dalits regarding a Supreme Court order, which, the community says, weakens the stringent law protecting them from atrocities. The government has now decided to file a petition, asking the court for a rethink, Union minister Thavar Chand Gehlot told NDTV.

The Social Justice Ministry has written to the Law Ministry to explore ways to file a review petition. The secretaries of the two ministries will sit down together to finalize the petition, Mr Gehlot told NDTV. .

The intervention by PM's office came after a delegation of Dalit lawmakers of the BJP and its allies, led by Ram Vilas Paswan, met him yesterday. The prime minister had assured them that the government was committed towards their welfare, they said after the meeting. Another delegation had met President Ram Nath Kovind.

Maintaining that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act law was being misused, the Supreme Court changed two key provisions of the law last week.

It stopped the immediate arrest of anyone accused under the law and introduced a provision for bail. The court said on certain occasions, the law was being misused to prevent public servants from doing their duty.

Dalit groups said the court could have come to a different conclusion had the Union government highlighted two key facts - the high rate of atrocities on the community and the abysmally low rate of conviction. A dilution of the law at this stage raises jeopardises their safety further, they contended.

The Congress sided with the call for a review petition, and said the government's failure to do the needful proves the BJP does not care about the welfare of the Dalits. A section within the BJP expressed apprehension that unless urgent action was taken, the  matter may blow up into a political controversy.


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