“The judgement is a ‘balance’ between Dalit rights and right of an innocent against arrest in a false case.”, says the SC.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday said its March 20 judgment, which provided safeguards against the misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act of 1989, is only meant to protect the innocent and prevent arbitrary arrests of innocents.
Despite the central government, filing a review petition before the apex court for this ruling, failed to convince a Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit to stay its direction, considering the massive protests across the country that claimed nine lives on Monday.
“An innocent should not be punished. There should not be terror in society. We do not want any member of the SC/ST to be deprived of his rights. We only want an innocent not to be punished,” Justice Goel said.
“Balance between Dalits’ rights and rights of an innocent”
Justice Goel, said the judgment will fortify the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989. He siad that the verdict is a ‘balance’ between Dalits’ rights and rights of an innocent against arrest in a false case.
“Our judgment implements what is said in the Constitution. We are conscious of the rights of the underprivileged and place them at the highest pedestal… but at the same time, an innocent person cannot be falsely implicated and arrested without proper verification. We have not stopped the implementation of the Act. Does the Act mandate the arrest of innocent persons? Our judgment is not against the Act,” Justice Goel addressed Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal.
He also added that the preliminary inquiry which is mandated in the Supreme Court verdict before an arrest is not meant to delay the grant of compensation mandated under the SC/ST Act. The money from the public exchequer should be preceded by verification against false claims and this ‘preliminary enquiry’ serves that purpose.
“An ‘ill-informed’ and ‘misled’ violence”
Widespread violence had erupted across several states after Dalit groups called for a Bharat Bandh on April 2nd in protest of the Supreme Court order. The bench termed the protests as ‘ill-informed’ and ‘misled’. The Justices stated that the people agitating might not have read the judgement in detail.