New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside its judgement which introduced measures like prior inquiry before the arrest of an accused under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, "SC/ST have been outcasts for centuries, and untouchability has not vanished yet. They still remain 'Harijan'."
The court observed the backward classes have not been able to achieve equity and civil rights, and despite reservations, the fruits of development have not reached them. The court also cited the death of workers who died while cleaning sewers. The apex court observed that no such directions should have been passed.
The apex court recalled directions which mandated prior sanction for arrest of public servants and private persons. The court also recalled the requirement of preliminary enquiry before registering FIR. Citing social discrimination faced by the backward classes, the court pointed that Article 15 carves out special provisions.
"Courts cannot do what could not be done by the legislature," said the top court.
The cloud of doubt on SC/ST was termed as "human failings" by the court.
The Centre filed a review petition and pressed for restoring the stringent provisions.