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Govt introduces SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act Amendment Bill


New Delhi, The government on Friday introduced in the Lok Sabha The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill that seeks to restore the original provisions under which an accused could be arrested immediately. The draft law was introduced by Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot as a follow-up of Union Cabinet's decision on August 1. Bringing in the new Bill has been necessitated in the wake of Supreme Court verdict on March 20 that had ordered virtual dilution of certain clauses and provisions of the previous Act. The 1989 law prohibited anticipatory bail, saying an accused on bail may use his liberty to terrorise his victims.The Supreme Court in its March 20 order on a writ from an individual had banned immediate arrest of a person accused of insulting or injuring a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe member. The court maintained the order was meant to protect innocents from arbitrary arrest and not an affront to Dalit rights.The Central government later approached the Supreme Court with a review petition and said original clause of the law should be upheld. The government had come under attack from the opposition parties for alleged role in 'diluting' the rights of the Dalits. Making things tough for the saffron party, its key ally in Bihar - the LJP - led by popular Dalit leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan - has also sustained pressure on the central government demanding a firm commitment on provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Two other NDA constituents RLSP of Bihar led by Union Minister of State for HRD Upendra Khushwaha and RPI of Ramdas Athawale had also advised the government to take the call for a proposed Bharat Bandh seriously. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lok Sabha on Thursday that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was firm about bringing the necessary Bill to 'restore' original provisions of the 1989 Act. "Prime Minister had made it clear from beginning that on this there will be no ifs and buts.... not even a comma will be changed," Rajnath Singh had said.

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