Govt plans to put SC/ST Act in Ninth Schedule

New Delhi: In a bid to counter its image of being seen as anti-Dalit, the Narendra Modi government has decided to not only bring an ordinance to nullify the Supreme Court verdict by putting safeguards on arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, but it is also working on a Bill to put the Act in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution and thus insulate it from judicial scrutiny.
Explaining the government’s intent to deal with the situation following the apex court verdict in March on the “arrest provision” in the Act, a senior official said, “While the Bill is a permanent arrangement to ensure that the SC/ST Act’s provisions are not diluted again, the ordinance is an interim arrangement to overturn the ruling.”
The apex court ruling had triggered massive protests by various Dalit and political outfits during which over 10 persons were killed.
The proposed ordinance would make it clear that notwithstanding any judgment or law in force, the provisions of the Act shall remain valid.
“Once promulgated, this would mean the ordinance would overturn the SC order,” the official said.
Referring to the proposed Bill, an official said, “Once included in the Ninth Schedule, the legislation gets protection under Article 31-B (validation of certain Acts and Regulations) and is not subject to judicial scrutiny.”