SC/ST Act: Three Judge Bench to hear Review Petition notified

Aditya AK September 17 2019
Acting Chief Justice

The three-judge Bench that will hear the Central government's review petition against the Supreme Court's judgment diluting provisions of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 [SC/ST Act] has been notified.

The matter will be heard by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah, and Bhushan Gavai.

A notice to this effect was published on the website of the Supreme Court of India.

Yesterday, the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit passed an order referring the matter to a three-judge Bench.

In 2018, the Supreme Court had introduced safeguards to prevent misuse of the SC/ST Act against officers who deal with the complaints under the Act in their official capacity.

It had held that prior sanction of the appointing authority is required for prosecuting officers for acts done by them with respect to SC/ST Act in their official capacity.

Quite significantly, the Court also gave a purposive interpretation to Section 18 of the Act, which prevents the grant of anticipatory bail in complaints under the Act.

"There is no absolute bar against grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Atrocities Act if no prima facie case is made out or where on judicial scrutiny the complaint is found to be prima facie mala fide."

The judgment had resulted in backlash from the SC/ST community, with widespread protests being held across the country.

The Centre had then decided to file a review petition against the judgment.

Parliament had, in August 2018, brought in an amendment to the SC/ST Act inserting additional provisions that effectively reversed the effect of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

While hearing the Centre’s review petition last year, the Court had stated that it had only reiterated the settled law of arrest while passing the controversial judgment. It had refused to stay its judgment while observing so.

After the Centre introduced the SC/ST Amendment Act, the same was challenged in the Supreme Court. The petition filed by Advocates Prithvi Raj Chauhan and Priya Sharma assails the “arbitrary manner” in which the Centre altered the directions issued by the Court in the SC/ST judgment “after examining all the relevant facts and data” on the Act.

Read the notice:

SCST Act review Bench