SC/ST Atrocities Act order: You don't have power to legislate, Centre tells SC
Reminding the Supreme Court about "separation of powers" enshrined in the Constitution, the central government on Thursday said the court has been misled into thinking that it has the power to legislate, adding that its recent order on the SC/ST Act has "diluted" the provisions of the law, resulting in "great damage" to the country.
Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal, on behalf of the Centre, said the "confusion" created by the apex court judgment deserves to be corrected by reviewing the order and recalling the directions.
"This case dealing with an issue of very sensitive nature has caused a lot of commotion in the country and is also creating anger, unease and a sense of disharmony," the AG said in the written submissions filed in the Supreme Court.
"The entire judgment is vitiated by the fact that the court proceeds on the basis that it can legislate, and has the power 'to make law when none exists'."
"The bland statement that 'power to declare law carries with it, within the limits of duty, to make law when none exists' is wholly fallacious because we live under a written Constitution of which separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary is the very basic structure and is inviolable," it added.
"This judgment has diluted, for the reasons stated, the provisions of the Atrocities Act read with the Code, resulting in great damage to the country."
The submission came on a plea seeking recall of the court's March order where it said that no arrest would be effected on a complaint under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, without an inquiry.
On March 20, the court banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the Act which led to violence and clashes on April 2 following a nation-wide strike call given by several Dalit organisations against the verdict.
On April 3, the apex court declined to stay its ruling, which activists say has diluted the law aimed at preventing atrocities on Dalits and tribes, as it asserted that it wanted to protect innocent people from being punished.
A bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit had said that all they had done was to read the Constitution's Article 21 -- guaranteeing protection of life and personal liberty -- in the Act and that should happen with every statute.