Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday told Parliament that the government would move and pass the Bill to restore the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act during the ongoing session itself. Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to it.
The minister was speaking in response to allegations from Congress member Mallikarjun Kharge that the government had delayed its response to the Supreme Court order “diluting” provisions of the SC/ST Act, and that it should have brought in an ordinance.
Accusing the government of being lackadaisical on issues concerning Dalits, Kharge had said, “In the past four months, since the Supreme Court order diluted the SC/ST Act, you have promulgated six ordinances on various issues, including homeopathy. But you could not promulgate an ordinance in this case.”
Singh said: “I am surprised why he (Kharge) raised it today. Probably, he has come to know that the Prime Minister-led Cabinet approved the Bill yesterday. The entire country knows that after dilution of the law by Supreme Court, the PM had said that he would bring in such a Bill – and if need be, even a stronger Bill — to restore the law. He had said that not a comma would be changed in the existing law.” Singh maintained, “We will pass the Bill during this session itself.”
Kharge said that after the court judgment, MPs from 17 political parties had met the President and given a memorandum. “We requested the President and the government to nullify the judgment. Even (former Congress chief) Sonia Gandhiwrote to the PM, asking for the law to be restored. But the government did nothing,” Kharge said. He said that the Act had first been passed by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989, and its “dilution” by the SC was “dangerous”.