On Tuesday, 20th November, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court heard the Central Government's arguments in response to the PILs filed challenging the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018. The Bench is composed of Justices AK Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
AG KK Venugopal presented arguments on behalf of the Government, relying on the affidavit filed by the Government where it justifies its decision to amend the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. He submitted that the Government amended the 1989 Act due to the Police's failure to effectively prosecute cases filed under it, which led to high acquittal rates. Thereby, he countered the petitioners' claim that frequent false complaints led to the high acquittal rates for cases filed under the Act. Further, he pointed to the alarmingly high number of atrocities reported under the Act to support the claim that the Act has not been properly implemented.
AG KK Venugopal recognized that the 2018 Amendment effectively nullifies the Supreme Court's judgment in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan vs. Union of India. AG KK Venugopal argued that the aim of the Amendment is in agreement with the aim of the 1989 Act -- namely to protect sections of society, which have faced discrimination and humiliation for generations.
The case will be taken up for hearing next in the third week of January, 2019.