In the wake of the ongoing violent protest against the alleged dilution of SC/ST Atrocities Act, the Central government on Monday filed a petition points seeking review of Supreme Court’s recent judgment diluting the mandatory arrest provision under SC/ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act. The Centre has sought restoration of earlier status by which any offense under the SC/ST Act was made a cognizable non-bailable offence. Centre said that it is necessary for the court to hear Centre’s oral arguments.

The Centre’s petition to the Supreme Court further mentioned that benefit of anticipatory bail to accused in SC/ST cases will give liberty to the accused to misuse it and terrorise the victims and also prevent investigation. Taking away the right to anticipatory bail does not amount to a violation of Article 21; it was introduced as a new right in 1973. While it’s important to protect the rights of the concerned according to under Article 21 but it’s equally important to protect SC/ST community members as stated in the Constitution under both article 21 and 17.

In a protest against alleged dilution of SC/ST Atrocities Act, a number of Dalit organisations on Monday called for a nationwide strike (Bharat Bandh). Meanwhile, the situation in Punjab is tense as all business establishments and institutions are shut today. As a precautionary measure, the Punjab government has appointed the Army and paramilitary forces to remain on ‘stand-by.’ The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has postponed Class 12 and Class 10 exams scheduled for Punjab. The Internet services in the state have also been suspended from Sunday and will continue on Monday till 11pm.

Reports said the Public transport services will remain temporarily suspended in the State. The Central government is likely to move a review petition in the Supreme Court today. Indian National Congress (INC) is backing the bandh. The Punjab Congress will hand over a memorandum to the Governor against the Supreme Court ruling during the day. Besides Congress, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Left-affiliated unions, the Janata Dal, Prakash Ambedkar-led Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and the Peasants and Workers Party have declared their solidarity with the protesters.

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