SC decries large-scale misuse of law.
New Delhi: Observing that there is a large-scale misuse of the law, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held that arrest of an accused is not ma-ndatory under the Provi-sions of SC/ST (Preven-tion of Atrocities) Act and the accused are entitled to anticipatory bail if they apprehend arrest.
A bench of Justices Adarsh K. Goel and Uday U. Lalit gave this ruling on an appeal from Mahara-shtra government servant Dr Subash Kasinath Mah-ajan challenging a Bombay HC verdict refusing to quash the FIR for his adverse remarks against an SC employee.
The court held that there is a need to provide for safeguards against registration of FIRs and arrests under the SC/ST Act in view of instances of misuse, as observed in the last three decades, and to protect the liberty of innocent victims.
The bench pointed out that this Act was enacted with the objective that the underprivileged need to be protected against any atrocities to give effect to the constitutional ideals. At the same time, the said Act cannot be converted into a charter for exploitation or oppression by any unscrupulous person or by police for extraneous reasons against other citizens.
The court pointed out that it has been judicially acknowledged that there are instances of abuse of the Act by vested interests against political opponents in panchayat, municipal or other elections, to settle private civil disputes arising out of property, monetary disputes, employment and seniority disputes.
It may be noticed that by way of rampant misuse, complaints are largely being filed particularly against public servants /quasi-judicial/judicial officers with oblique motive for satisfaction of vested interests. It said the Act should promote constitutional values of fraternity and integration of the society and not result in perpetuating casteism which would have an adverse impact on integration of society and constitutional values.