SC/ST Act being used for blackmail, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court referred to how public administration has been threatened by the abuse of the SC/ST Act.

The Supreme Court directs that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority.

The anti-atrocities law, which protects Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from casteist slurs and discrimination, has become an instrument to “blackmail” innocent citizens and public servants, the Supreme Court observed in a judgment on Tuesday.



Issuing a slew of guidelines to protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the Atrocities Act, the court directed that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority. In the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.

Besides this precaution, a preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR is registered to check whether the case falls within the parameters of the Atrocities Act and if it is frivolous or motivated.

The past three decades have seen complainants — who belong to the marginalised sections of society — use the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 to exact “vengeance” and satisfy vested interests, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit said in their 89-page judgment.

“Innocent citizens are termed accused, which is not intended by the legislature. The legislature never intended to use the Atrocities Act as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance,” the Supreme Court observed.

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