Supreme Court’s recent order on the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act created tension among the Dalits and they voiced their protest challenging so through Bharat Bandh. The NDA government today filed a petition seeking review of the Supreme Court so that Dalits can be protected against discrimination and atrocities, which seems now to be got threatened due to the apex court’s order.
There is a probability that the government is going to move a review petition in the Supreme Court today. On March 20, the apex court banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the SC/ST Act, resulting in resentment and widespread criticism from the Dalit community.
Why the Dalits are reacting so aggressively towards the apex court’s decision to dilute the SC\ST Atrocities Act can be realized if some focus is made on what the act is all about and how it can protect the community. The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an Act of the Indian Parliament enacted to protect scheduled castes and scheduled tribes against atrocities and being oppressed. It abolished untouchability and sought to forbid all such practices. In simple words, it ensures safeguarding their fundamental and socio-economic, political, and cultural rights.
The “dilution” of the SCs/STs Act can threaten Dalits safety as public servants need the approval of the appointing authority for prosecution and private citizens also can be arrested only after an enquiry under the law is made. It further stated that the Deputy Superintendent of Police will conduct a preliminary enquiry to see if the accusations are frivolous. The amendment in the law intends to protect honest public servants performing bona fide duties from being wrongly framed with false cases under the Act.
The strike is seemingly disturbing peace and causing unrest as reported from Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. Several protesters have been spotted carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags to showcase their anger against the apex court’s order. It has been reported that they have forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to discontinue operating temporarily on this day. Several political parties have pointed their fingers at the ruling government and lashed out saying they intend to keep Dalits oppressed and at the lowest level in the Indian Society.