Amend SC/ST Act after apex court ruling: Congress
New Delhi: Blaming the Modi government for violence during protests by Dalits after the Supreme Court ruling on SC/ST Act, the Congress on Monday demanded the Centre bring an amendment to the said law in Parliament or file a 'curative petition' in the apex court.
The opposition party also claimed that the Centre was not interested in addressing the issues facing the Dalits, backward classes, minorities, the poor, youths, and farmers, while it was only interested in those 'who make money'.
"The government took the issues of Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes very lightly. Instead of designating the Attorney General or his assistant to argue for 23 per cent population of the country in the Supreme Court, they had sent a junior lawyer. The result is the dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, said Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
"The government must immediately bring in an amendment in Parliament to take corrective measures. A review petition (in the Supreme Court) will go to the same people who gave the order. They (Centre) can also file a curative petition and the matter should be heard by a Full Bench in the Supreme Court," he added.
Kharge said: "The government is deliberately delaying the matter. We hope an amendment will be brought and the very purpose of the law would be protected and upheld."
The Centre on Monday moved the Supreme Court to seek recall of its March 20 judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the said Act.
Police will hold an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the complaint filed under the Act before acting on it, the apex court said.
Kharge said: "Whatever order the SC has given, Parliament can undo it through amendment in law. Even 13 days after the order, the Centre could not file a review petition. The government is responsible for weakening/diluting the law."
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government did not take any step to ensure that the Act does not get diluted.
"The government would have sent the Attorney General even to the lowest court, had the case been against an opposition leader. But the government has no interest in addressing the issues of the Dalits or the backward classes.
"I blame the central government for weakening and diluting the law. We (5-6 parties) also submitted a memorandum to President (Ram Nath Kovind). He said he will look into the matter," said Azad.
Azad said atrocities against the Dalits and backward classes have increased under the Modi government.
"We (Congress) do not not believe in any kind of violence and damage to public property. Had the government taken steps and filed the review petition earlier, there would not have been a Bharat 'bandh' today (Monday). We hold the government responsible," he said.