In a landmark decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Court has quashed its own decision of 2018 that diluted the Scheduled Castes And the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (POA Act). The top court had earlier diluted the SC/ST Act, by placing guidelines for arrest under this Act. On October 1, the three-judge bench has ruled out its own verdict and has allowed the government's review petition on the issue. Additionally, SC in its verdict has highlighted that the struggle of SC/ST people for equality is still not over in the country. The apex court said, "SC/ST people still face untouchability, abuse and are being socially outcast." The top court has partially recalled directions on March 20, 2018 verdict which virtually diluted provision of arrest under SC/ST Act. It said that the verdict was not called for.
A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, on March 20, flagged “rampant misuse” of the Act, “as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance”. The verdict allowed for anticipatory bail for the accused in some instances. The court laid down guidelines for arrest. It included prior sanction by a superior officer before the arrest of an accused, and brought in a provision for a preliminary inquiry. After massive outcry due to SC's verdict, the Union Cabinet in August last year approved an amendment to the Act to undo ‘dilution’ of the law by the Supreme Court. The Centre then decided to file a review plea over top court's order.
In the aftermath of the verdict last year, Dalit groups all across the country led massive protests. The protests turned violent in many places. At least seven people were killed and over 100 injured in various parts of the country. The issue was then raised in Parliament, where MPs urged the Centre to promulgate an Ordinance to restore the Act.