In response to the editorial 'Voice Of Reason'

I M Sharma

There is nothing wrong in the SC Judgment. The so-called Bharat Bandh was ill-conceived and very sad that the leftist parties are sailing with rabid casteist forces. There is nothing in the SC Judgment which even remotely hints at any dilution of SC & ST Act but rightly points out that the section denying anticipatory bail to the accused is arbitrary and could be struck down if not read down to save the fundamental rights under Article 21 guaranteed to the accused. Also it rightly suggests a preliminary enquiry before registration of a FIR in this regard.

The SC decision has rightly found fault with Section 18 of the SC & ST Atrocities Act that altogether denies any anticipatory bail to the accused in cases under the Act and is thus grossly discriminatory to the extent of denying the precious right of personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court also found fault with automatic registration of FIRs the moment a complaint is filed under the Act but advised moderation and conduct of a preliminary enquiry, especially if the accused be public servants, and the consideration by a senior police officer of the rank of the Superintendent in case of non-public servants. In our opinion, Section 18 denying anticipatory bail altogether is unconstitutional and it should have been declared so and clarified that protection and promotion of interests of any vulnerable community cannot be at the cost of universally recognized human and fundamental rights of other citizens and a reasonable balance needs to be struck which is very much lacking in this Act. Further, any Special Acts framed per exigencies of circumstances must have a definite sun-set clause with non-extendable closure time also or otherwise the protections or rights accorded thereunder are bound to become undue privileges to the beneficiary sections at the chagrin and extreme disadvantage and even injury to the interests and human rights of other persons. Much controversy has arisen on this judgment and even a Bharat Bandh resulting in much violence, anarchy and even deaths of a few agitators has resulted but all this was quite unnecessary and unthinking acts as nowhere in the judgment any indication even of the need to repeal the Act or dilute it otherwise has been made.

- I. Mallikarjuna Sharma, Advocate and Editor, LAW ANIMATED WORLD.

Apr 20, 2018

Mallik Sharma

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