SC/ST (POA) Bill and its impact
| Onkareshwar Pandey - 17 Aug 2018

SC/ST (POA) Bill and its impact

by Major Saras Tripathi

New Delhi, Aug 17, 2018

Subversion of the “spirit” of the Constitution, under the garb of social justice, is continuing. Sometimes it is in the name of welfare, sometimes under the veil of positive discrimination for empowerment, sometimes in the appellation of bringing equality or, most of the time; to correct the perceived historical wrong. Passing of “SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Bill” in both of the houses of the Parliament, without a single member raising any dissent about the discrimination it brings between the citizens, proves that sense of propriety and reasoning is lost in the quest for the vote. The bill has divided the citizenry into two categories: extremely privileged SC/ST and the rest. The surprising fact is that majority of the MPs are from non-ST/ST category but they all not only kept mum but supported the bill, overtly or covertly. This has proved only one truth: historically, all the atrocities are committed for remaining in power or for vested interest (and not due to caste or birth) by the kings, Zamindars, Priests etc. A retrospection of the events, at least post-independence, will prove the fact.

In 1951-52, Dr Ambedkar was so unpopular that he lost his election from Bombay (North) reserved for SC, when he fought on ticket of his own party named Scheduled Caste Federation. He was defeated by Congress’ NS Kajrolkar, one time his assistant. He also lost in his second attempt in 1954 (by election) from Bhandara. But despite his defeats, he was inducted in the cabinet by Nehru and was given the honour of first Law Minister of India. Further, in later stage, he was facilitated to enter the Parliament as a member of Rajya Sabha by Nehru. Why? Not because Nehru believed that Ambedkar was really a great leader but because Nehru wanted to cut Jagjivan Ram, another Dalit leader to size and secure more SC votes of Ambedkarites. There was no provision of reservation in the original constitution. It was inserted in 1951 by Nehru government by bringing in the first amendment in the Constitution that provided 23% reservation to the SC and ST. Nehru was a Kashmiri Pundit (and not an SC/ST).

Similarly, the 27% reservation for OBC in government services was introduced by Sri V P Singh (Thakur/Rajput), an erstwhile royal from Manda, Allahabad. It was further extended in educational institutions by another Thakur and erstwhile king of Churhat( Satna, MP); Arjun Singh. The ST/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was first introduced, legislated and implemented by Rajiv Gandhi, third generation dynast of Nehru-Gandhi lineage (not even reportedly associated with SC/ST caste). When the Supreme Court drove some sense of reasoning by interpreting it and mandating that arrest will not be executed without the preliminary inquiry, it has been overturned by another government led by non-SC/ST, dominated by non-ST/ST (so-called upper caste) and actually guided by Brahmins (RSS).

The SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 with stringent provisions was enacted on 9 September 1989, enlisting 22 offences punishable under the Act. Based on powers vested in Section 23(1) of the Act, the Central Government framed rules in 1995 and notified on 31 March 1995. The provisions of the Act were misused by the SC/ST community and many innocent people were framed falsely. Based on the data and constitutionality, the SC ruled in March 2018 that the instant arrest is unconstitutional and infringes the right of life and liberty, and equality before the law. A Bill seeking to reverse the March 20, 2018 order of the Supreme Court, which purportedly diluted provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, was introduced and passed by the parliament. The charged discussions also witnessed demands by MPs to park the law in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution so that it is beyond judicial review. Some demanded that the ceiling of 50% reservation placed by the SC be neutralised by passing the new legislation. And these are the real cause of fear.

The 77% population in the non-SC-ST category are agitated, feel cheated and deceived. The reason is that the new Act has not only neutralised the reasonable and sane interpretation of the Act but also included five more offences to the list. It has provisioned that no anticipatory bail is given and courts are kept away from interference. The more worrisome reason for anger and agitation is that if this is the respect the government (actually Parliament) has for the Judiciary, then on the day it will break the 50% ceiling on the reservation placed by the SC. The issue is not that people are eager to commit atrocities but what is the safeguard against false or revengeful FIR? The game never was of caste nor is it today. It all is for vote and remaining in power; else why Nehru, V P Singh, Arjun Singh and Modi will be so unreasonable and blind to not say that the “King is naked”.

(Writer is a former Major of Indian Army and a renowned Security Expert)

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