New Delhi: Stating that the Government was fully committed to the welfare of SC/ST, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said in the Lok Sabha there has been no dilution in the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act by the Centre but the Government has rather strengthened it.
A number of Dalit organisations had called for 'Bharat Bandh' on Monday to protest against the alleged "dilution" of the SCs/STs Act by the Supreme Court.
Making a statement in the House on violence during 'Bharat Bandh', Mr Singh said, 'Through the House, I want to assure the people that there has been no dilution in whatsoever by my Government, rather after coming to power and examining the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, we have taken a decision to strengthen it.'
'In 1995, the Government passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (PoA) Amendment Act. As part of the amendment to SC/ST PoA Act, new offences were added. It was observed that due to the delay in filing of charge sheet, the victims/witness who were vulnerable were influenced and silenced. In order to protect them, the provision of witness protection was introduced. The compensation payable to the victims was also enhanced. There has been a new provision where action against Government Servants shall be taken against those found negligent in implementing the Act,' he said.
'I wish to assure you that our Government is fully committed to the welfare of SC/ST, ' he said.
The Government has already filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to maintain the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in its present form, Mr Singh said.
The Union Home Minister informed the House that the Supreme Court will hear the Centre’s review petition on the matter at 1400 hrs today. The Central government on Monday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its March 20 verdict on the SC & ST Act.
'Immediately after the judgement of Supreme Court, a decision was taken by my Government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. The Ld Attorney General has made an appeal in the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the matter at 2 o’clock today. This shows the prompt action by Government and does not leave any doubt regarding the intention of the Government to protect the interest of the SC/ST. I wish to also inform that after the judgement of the Supreme Court on 20th March, 2018 within the span of only six working days, without losing any time and acting swiftly, the Government has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court,' the Union Home Minister said.
'I also wish to inform that there have been widespread rumours regarding the issue of reservation which are false and baseless,' he said.
He said the Union Government is fully committed to protecting the interests of the SC/ST community.
'We have issued advisory to all the States to ensure that no breach of Law and Order takes place and safety of lives of citizens and properties are ensured. We have provided all assistance to the States immediately on their request. The Home Ministry is keeping a close vigil and is in constant touch with the State Governments,' Mr Singh said.
'Through this House, I appeal to all the citizens to maintain peace and harmony amongst themselves. I also appeal to all the Political parties to help maintain peace and harmony,' he said.
The Union Home Minister said, ' Yesterday, there have been incidences of violence and arson in some parts of the country.'
He said during 'Bharat Bandh', eight people lost their lives in violence. (Madhya Pradesh--6, Uttar Pradesh--01 and Rajasthan--1), adding that there have been clashes between the police and the protesters.
'I would like to convey my deep condolences for the people who have lost their lives. I fully appreciate that there is widespread anger amongst the people, following the Supreme Court order. I wish to inform the House that the Government was not party in that case,' he said. (UNI)