Day 3 Arguments: 30th January 2019 

Today, a 2 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court declined the plea to stay the 2018 Amendments to SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, which had effectively  which nullified the Supreme Court judgment in Kashinath Mahajan. In 2018, Parliament added Section 18A to SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to overturn safeguards introduced by the Supreme Court in its Kashinath Mahajan judgment. Section 18A undoes all three safeguards introduced:

  1. Conduct a preliminary inquiry prior to the registration of a First Incident Report (FIR)
  2. Investigation officer must receive further approval prior to effectuating an arrest
  3. Grant anticipatory bail to any accused, notwithstanding any judgment or order or direction of any Court.

 

In addition to the petitions challenging the Act, there are also review petitions of Kashinath Mahajan pending before the Court. Usually review petitions are heard by the same Bench that delivered the judgment. The judgment in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan was delivered by a Bench of Justice U U Lalit and Justice A K Goel. However, Justice Goel retired. 

 

In the previous hearing, the 3 Judge Bench hearing the challenge to the Amendment decided to take the unusual step of clubbing together the challenge to the Amendment along with the review petitions challenging Kashinath Mahajan. They referred the clubbed matters to the CJI, so that hey may list them before an appropriate Bench. Note that the scope of a writ petition is much broader than the scope of a review petition, so it is unusual for writ petitions to be clubbed together with review petitions.

 

The CJI's Court listed the matter for hearing today before a Bench of Justice U U Lalit and Justice Indu Malhotra. The counsel Vikas Singh representing the petitioner Priya Sharma sought for a stay on the operation on the amendment as that there cannot be review hearings and a substantive challenge to the Amendment at the same time. 

 

The Court has however declined to stay the amendment and listed the case for final hearing on 19th February, 2019

(Court reporting by Disha Chaudhry)