Modi cabinet approves bringing amendment to SC/ST Act

The Narendra Modi government has decided to bring a constitution amendment bill in Parliament to restore the original provisions of the SC/ST Act, under pressure from alliance partners — including Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and Ramdas Athawale’s RPI.

The Union Cabinet today approved an amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The amendment, if passed by Parliament, will in effect nullify the Supreme Court judgment pronounced on March 20. The judgment had diluted the SC/ST Act to state that immediate arrest of an accused under this law would no longer be mandatory. The arrest was to follow a preliminary enquiry by the probing agency or the police.

Soon after the judgment was pronounced, various Dalit groups launched a nationwide agitation.

The political pressure on the government increased after Justice (Retired) AK Goyal was appointed as the chairman of the National Green Tribunal. He was on the Supreme Court bench that pronounced the judgment in SC/ST Act case.

LJP chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan gave an ultimatum to the Modi government to bring an amendment bill by August 9 as the Dalit groups have threatened to launch a massive agitation from the next day. Another Union minister, Ramdas Athawale, also demanded that a bill be brought in Parliament to restore original provisions of the SC/ST Act.

Paswan’s son and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan demanded that if the Modi government failed to bring an amendment bill by August 9, then the monsoon session should be curtailed and an Ordinance should be promulgated to restore the SC/ST Act.

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