SC/ST ruling: Bharat bandh hits life in Punjab, Odisha; top 10 developments

Dalit groups around the country called Bhart Bandh after the Supreme Court recently diluted the Prevention of Atrocities against SC-ST Act. The apex court will hear a review petition today

Dalit organisations across the country have called a 'Bharat bandh' today to protest a recent Supreme Court ruling diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.

Early in the day, movement of trains in Odisha's Sambalpur was blocked by protesters on Monday, according to reports by news agency ANI.
The Bharat bandh has already brought Punjab to a standstill, as CBSE has postponed the board exams scheduled for April 2, and transport services have been suspended. According to an Indian Express report, several army units have been kept on a standby, should the situation take an ugly turn. Internet services in the state were suspended on Sunday and will remain so through Monday.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, will later in the day hear a review petition filed on the matter by the government. The Centre is likely to tell the apex court that dilution of the Act will render it ineffective and prevent the dispensing of justice to the marginalised Dalit and tribal communities.

On March 20, the apex court had introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the Act while directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

The Supreme Court said that the change was brought to protect honest public servants discharging duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act. The apex court said government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens, too, should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.

Here are the top 10 developments around the so-called dilution of the Act and the Bharat bandh called by Dalit organisations across the country:

1. CBSE postpones class 10, 12 exams in Punjab: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has postponed class 12 and class 10 examinations in Punjab scheduled to be held on Monday at the request of the state government in view of the 'Bharat Bandh'.

The board said it had received a letter of request, dated April 1, 2018, from the director general (school education) of the Punjab government to postpone all its examinations scheduled to be held on account of apprehensions of law and order problems and other disturbances during the 'Bharat Bandh'.

2. Schools to be shut in Punjab: The Punjab government has also decided to keep all schools shut for the day, the CBSE said referring to the letter of the state government.

"Taking congnisance of the letter of the director general (school education), the CBSE decided to postpone all class 12 and 10 examinations scheduled for April 2 , 2018 in the state of Punjab," it said in a statement issued late in the night.

3. Exams unaffected in rest of the country: "Exams will carry on as per schedule in UT of Chandigarh and rest of the country," CBSE said. The next date of the examinations in Punjab will be announced soon by the board, it added.

4. Transport services suspended: An official spokesperson of the Punjab government in Chandigarh said the public transport services across the state had been suspended in view of the bandh call.

5. Gehlot says SC decision will prevent justice: Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on Sunday said the Centre had decided to file a review petition against the Supreme Court's decision on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (SC/ST Act), contending it would not be able to provide justice to the suppressed.

"Supreme Court's decision on SC/ST Protection Act would not be able to provide justice to the suppressed people, and those accused and deserving of punishment would be saved. Union government took cognizance of it, and the Law Ministry with our ministry, took the decision that review petition will be filed against the court's decision," Gehlot told ANI.

He also assured the minorities and the suppressed castes that their right would be safeguarded under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and urged all groups that have called for a Bharat Bandh on Monday, to help maintain peace and harmony in the country.

6. What is the point of a bandh, Pawan asks: Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday questioned the need for an all-India bandh against the Supreme Court's ruling on the SC/ST Act, asking "What is the point of organising a Bharat Bandh? The government is positively going to file the review petition".

7. Rahul Gandhi says atrociticities against Dalits increasing: Congress President Rahul Gandhi questioned the Supreme Court's decision to water down the Act at a time when atrocities against Dalits ''are increasing''. "On the one hand, atrocities are increasing against the Dalits and tribals, and on the other the Act is being diluted. The Congress President has supported and said he will take action," he said.

8. Opposition leaders meet Ram Nath Kovind: Several Opposition leaders met the President on Wednesday to communicate their postion against the SC order. They submitted a memorandum citing National Crime Records Bureau data and claimed that a crime is committed against Dalit women every 15 minutes in the country and six Dalit women were raped every day.

"Rape cases against Dalit women have doubled from 2007 to 2017 and a 66 per cent increase in atrocities against Dalits have been reported in the last 10 years. This situation has only worsened in the last 3-4 years under the regime of the present government at the Centre," it said.

9. 'Dilution will embolden attacks on Dalits': DMK leader T K S Elangovan said dilution of the Act will embolden offenders. "Media is coming out with stories on attacks on Dalits and weaker sections. This is not a good sign. They should see that the law is not diluted. We want the President to intervene."

CPI(M) leader T K Rangarajan said they urged the President to ask the government to file a review petition.

"We think that he will take some immediate action and some justice will be done. We told him that conviction rate is very low, atrocities against Dalits, Adivasis, and women are increasing," he said.

10. Supreme Court's says Act may 'perpetuate casteism': On March 20, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no absolute bar on granting an anticipatory bail under the Act. The apex court said that to prevent the harassment of government servants it was prudent to have a high ranking officer to first ascertain whether the facts add up to demand an arrest. 

The Supreme Court Bench, comprising judges Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit further noted that to avoid false implication of an innocent, preliminary enquiry will be done by the DSP to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous.

According to a report published by The Wire, the Supreme Court also emphasised that the Act may even “perpetuate casteism” and how there was a need to curb “false implication of innocent citizens on caste lines”.

Source - business standurd

Follow by Email