BISHESHWAR MISHRA / NEW DELHI
Centre today rejected the allegation that it has diluted the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act saying instead it has strengthened the law to protect the interest of Dalits.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted in the Lok Sabha that the government is committed to the protection given by Constitution to SCs and STs. He was making a statement in the House over violence during yesterday’s nation-wide protests by Dalit groups.
The Minister said, NDA government had passed the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment, Act by adding new offences in it. They include witness protection, enhancement of compensation to the victim and action against government officials for negligence. Mr Singh also dismissed the allegation that the government has delayed in filing the review petition before the apex court saying that the Centre moved the court within six working days after the judgment. He said this shows the prompt action taken by the government and does not leave any doubt on its intention. The Minister said, in the review petition, the government also urged the apex court to give an urgent hearing.
He said the NDA government is committed to protect the interests of the SC and ST communities and urged the agitating people as well as political parties to maintain peace and harmony. The Minister informed the House that in yesterday’s violence, eight people have lost their lives in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and conveyed his deep condolence to the people.
Mr Singh added that he appreciated that the wide spread anger among the Dalits over the court’s verdict clarifying that the government was not a party in the case. Amid noisy scenes, Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress accused the government of diluting the Act. Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress, also attacked the government saying that earlier the Additional Solicitor General had given consent in the court to dilute the Act.