ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Judicial Atrocity?

The Supreme Court’s judgment raising the bogey of misuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989, is a grave atrocity against Dalits and Adivasis in itself. It seeks to effectively generalise one case to rewrite an entire law, transfer judicial functions to the police, create hurdles in the immediate arrest of perpetrators and their collaborators, and make the act toothless.

On 20 March 2018, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment that effectively neutralised the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act (henceforth POA Act), 1989. Insofar as this judgment has further exposed Dalits and Adivasis to casteist oppression by emboldening the perpetrators of atrocities, it may be construed as a grave atrocity in itself. The bench, comprising Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit, dealt with an appeal of one Subhash Kashinath Mahajan, against the order of the High Court of Bombay of 5 May 2017, which had declined his prayer to quash the complaint of a Scheduled Caste (SC) employee under the PoA Act. In the circumstances, if the court found merit in the case, it could have simply granted his appeal. However, the 89-page long judgment went on to generalise this particular issue pertaining to the purported misuse of the act and pronounce that in cases under the act, the arrest of a public servant can only be effected after approval of the appointing authority, and of a non-public servant after approval by the senior superintendent of police. Thus, the honourable judges have effectively sought to rewrite the law themselves, and encroach upon the legislative jurisdiction of Parliament.

Birth of the PoA Act

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Updated On : 16th Apr, 2018

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