The March 2018 Supreme Court Judgement on the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

Misjudged and misled: What the Justices missed in their understanding of SC/ST Act
We break down the existing law in a bid to understand what it really says and whether the apex court had to revisit it and issue guidelines.
By Anita Cheria and Edwin

The order of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit of the Supreme Court of India in the regarding the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and Rules 1995 (amended in 2015 and 2016 respectively) has caused considerable consternation and dismay.

There are many opinions on the judgement. For clarity it is best to go back to the basics: to the bare Act and Rules. This piece looks at the judgement from the point of view of the Act and the Rules, bearing in mind the highest standards of law, evidence and proof to ‘apply principles of law and draw inferences, not to be swayed by mercy or compassion, adjudicate without taking sides and without being mindful of the consequence on the basis of well-drawn parameters’ – or more prosaically: facts are sacred, comment is free.

What is really written in the law?

The judgement

The 89-page judgement quotes copiously from several other judgements (curiously many from the High Court of Gujarat), international instruments, why it is competent to pass the judgement, and finally meanders into its reasoning, judgement, orders.

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