Judgement on SC/ST Act has diluted provisions of law: Centre to SC

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that its recent judgement on the SC/ST Act has “diluted” the provisions of the law, resulting in “great damage” to the country, and steps may be taken to correct it. It said the top court verdict, which had dealt with an issue of a “very sensitive nature”, has caused “commotion”, “anger, unease and a sense of disharmony” in the country.
The government also said the “confusion” created by the apex court verdict may have to be corrected by reviewing the judgement and recalling the directions issued by it. In his written submission, Attorney General KK Venugopal said that through the judgement, the top court has not filled the gaps in the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, but rather amended it through judicial legislation. He also stressed that there was separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary which was “inviolable”.
“It is submitted that this judgement has diluted, for the reasons stated, the provisions of the Atrocities Act read with the Code, resulting in great damage to the country,” the Attorney General said in his written submissions.
“This case, dealing with the issue of very sensitive nature, has caused a lot of commotion in the country and is also creating anger, unease and a sense of disharmony,” it said.
“Bland statement that ‘power to declare law carries with it, within the limits of duty, to make law when none exists’ is wholly fallacious because we live under a written Constitution of which separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary is the very basic structure and is inviolable,” it said.
The Centre’s submission came in the backdrop of several states being rocked by violence and clashes on April 2 following a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by several SC/ST organisations protesting the top court’s March 20 order, which claimed at least eight lives and injured hundreds.
The apex court had on April 3 refused to keep in abeyance this verdict, saying those agitating against its order putting in place certain safeguards on arrests under the Act may not have read the judgement or could have been misled by “vested interests”.
The top court had also asserted that “no provisions of SC/ST Act have been diluted” while clarifying that additional safeguards had been put in place “to protect the fundamental rights” of innocents. It had refused to accept the submission of Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for Centre, and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Maharashtra, to keep the verdict in abeyance till it decided the Centre’s review petition.