Diluted SC/ST Act Will Increase Atrocities: Dalit Protesters

Under pressure from the Opposition, the government filed a review petition before the SC challenging its order.

2 min read

Violent protests erupted across India during a nationwide bandh called by Dalit outfits against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on Monday, 2 April. A curfew was imposed in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind districts in Madhya Pradesh after at least four died in the protests.

Incidents of arson and vandalism were reported from other states too – Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Punjab where telecom and transport services were disrupted.


The Supreme Court had on 20 March diluted certain provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, in a bid to protect 'honest' public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.

The verdict was widely criticised by the Dalits and the Opposition, who claim that the dilution of the Act will lead to more discrimination and crimes against backward communities.

“In light of a few fake atrocity cases, you cannot generalise that Dalits are using the atrocities act for blackmailing and based on that,” Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani said.

A Dalit protester from Agra told ANI:

Even with the POAA clause in order, atrocities and discrimination against Dalits are rampant. If the POAA clause is removed then there will be more atrocities against us.

BJP Faces Flak

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government came under attack from the Opposition who demanded an amendment to roll back the Supreme Court ruling.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad questioned why the government did not send a senior official such as the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General or the Additional Solicitor General to represent the interests of the backward classes in the apex court.

Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP for the plight of Dalits. He said he “saluted brothers and sisters” from the community who came to the the streets to demand protection of their rights from the Narendra Modi government.

The BJP also drew criticism from its own quarters. BJP MP from Bahraich Savitri Bai Phule on Sunday, 1 April, attacked her own party over reservations.

“It is being said that they would end reservation. How dare they… whether I remain an MP or not, I will ensure that the Constitution remains unchanged… will ensure that reservation is implemented,” Phule told a massive rally in Lucknow, reported The Indian Express.


BJP Files for Review Petition

Under pressure from the Opposition, the government on Monday, 2 March, filed a review petition before the Supreme Court challenging its order.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Centre does not agree with the reasoning of the Supreme Court.

We have filed a review petition on the judgment of the Supreme Court about SC/ST Protection Act. The government was not a party in the proceedings, and therefore on behalf of Ministry of Social Justice a comprehensive review has been filed. 
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law Minister

Home Minister Rajnath Singh also appealed for peace and requested political groups to not incite violence.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appealed to the people not to disturb law and order.

"The law and order should not be disturbed by these protests. The government is serious towards the development and progress of Dalits. I appeal to them not to disturb law and order," Adityanath said.

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Topics:  Rajnath Singh   Rahul Gandhi   bharat bandh 

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