State governments are with the Centre on the issue of recalling the Supreme Court order allegedly diluting the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, home ministry officials said.The comments came in the wake of reports that some state governments have already directed their police to strictly implement the March 20 apex court order, which has upset Dalits groups leading to protests. “The Centre has made abundantly clear that there should be no dilution of the SC/ST Act. It has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court for recall of its order. As far as states are concerned, they are also on board. They are in touch with the Centre and many of them are taking steps. Some have already announced that they will associate with the Centre,” a ministry official said. There were reports that some state governments have issued formal orders, instructing police chiefs to strictly implement the Supreme Court order that forbids arrest under the SC/ST Act without sanction.To protests the March 20 order, some Dalit groups had called a Bharat Bandh on April 2 during which at least 12 people were killed in violence. Another bandh was called on April 10 called by people opposed to caste-based reservations in jobs and education. The central government had on April 2 filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its verdict that laid down stringent ‘safeguards’ before registering a case under the Act. Following a nudge from the top party brass, three BJP-ruled states have decided to keep in abeyance implementation of the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Act and will file review pleas against the directive, a top leader said today. While Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan had reportedly taken steps to implement the order, they have now decided to put its execution in abeyance and approach the apex court for a review. “We have spoken to these chief ministers and their governments will soon file a review petition in the court. It is natural that the implementation of the order will be put in abeyance till the judiciary takes a final call,” the party leader said on the condition of anonymity. The court recently laid down guidelines to prevent the alleged misuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Dalit groups have, however, vehemently protested against the verdict, saying it dilutes the law and will lead to a rise in cases of atrocities against the scheduled castes and tribes. The Centre has already filed a plea seeking review of the Supreme Court directive in the wake of largescale protests by Dalit organisations. In its order on March 20, the apex court had said the law’s misuse had led innocent citizens being framed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention when the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was originally enacted.Opposition parties have used the issue to attack the ruling BJP, which has been assiduously wooing wooed Dalits under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its president Amit Shah. As per reports, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan governments recently issued formal orders, instructing their police chiefs to implement the March 20 Supreme Court order. After the judgement, various Dalit MPs from the BJP-led ruling NDA alliance, including Ram Vilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale, had met Modi to expresses their concerns and demanded that the Centre should challenge the order.Modi has also asserted that his government will not allow any dilution of the law to prevent atrocities against SCs and STs. Representing the government’s view, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the government “differs” with the reasoning given by the Supreme Court judgement for “virtually redoing the entire architecture” of the Act.
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