Rahul leads protest by Cong MPs seeking review of apex court verdict on SC/ST Act

NEW DELHI
23 Mar 2018

Congress MPs, led by party chief Rahul Gandhi, today staged a protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue inside Parliament premises, demanding that the Centre seeks a review of the Supreme Court's verdict on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The apex court had on Tuesday diluted stringent provisions mandating immediate arrest under the law concerned in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the SC/ST Act.  The protesters charged the Union government with "not arguing properly" in the case before the apex court and demanded it files a review petition. They also called for an amendment in the Act. The Congress MPs raised slogans such as "Daliton ke samman mein, Rahul Gandhi maidan mein" (Rahul Gandhi stands for protection of Dalit's rights) and "stop atrocities against members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes".

"The latest interpretation of the SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court has resulted in (near) abolition of the legislation. The government did not argue properly before the Supreme Court in this connection," Mallikarjun Kharge told a news channel outside Parliament. "Hence, the government should file a review petition, bring an amendment and protect rights. If it does not do, it is will manifest pretension of defence by the government," he said. Earlier, the MPs gathered at the office of the Congress Parliament Party and discussed the strategy to move forward on the issue. Sources said the party's strategy inside Parliament was also discussed with Rahul during the meeting.

Both Houses of Parliament -- the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha -- have not been functioning ever since the start of the second leg of the Budget Session on March 5. This is the third week in a row that Parliament proceedings have been disrupted and has not transacted any business.  The crucial Finance Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha amid the din created by various parties. Attempts by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to work out a solution to ensure smooth conduct of business have yielded no results.