New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Leaders of several opposition parties met President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday and sought his intervention to press the government to file a review petition before the Supreme Court over its verdict diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 1989.
The delegation included leaders from the Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party, the DMK and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Talking to reporters later, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that atrocities against the Dalits were increasing but the Act was being weakened.
“On the one hand, atrocities are increasing against the Dalits and tribals and on the other hand the Act is being diluted. The President has supported and said he will take action,” he said.
Asked what action will be taken, he said the President has stated that he will assess it and take relevant action.
BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra said they told the President that the government had not fought the case effectively.
“Hence a review petition should be filed, hearing should take place in open court,” he said.
CPI-M leader T. K. Rangarajan said they urged President to ask the government to file a review petition.
“We think that he will take some immediate action and some justice will be done. We told him that conviction rate is very low, atrocities against Dalits, Adivasis, and women are increasing,” he said.
DMK leader T.K.S. Elangovan said dilution of the Act will embolden offenders. “Media is coming out with stories on attacks on Dalits and weaker sections. This is not a good sign. They should see that the law is not diluted. We want the President to intervene.”
NCP leader Vandana Chavan said the government should safeguard the weaker and the vulnerable sections of the society.
She said that the provisions under the Atrocities on SC and ST Act were quite stringent and these should not be diluted.
“Therefore, we all made a presentation to the Hon’ble President that there has to be a review petition. He seemed to be very positive,” he said.
The opposition parties also gave a memorandum to the President which accused the government of being double-faced.
“Even on merits it is quite surprising that instead of fighting for the rights of Dalits, as claimed by the Union government, the Centre submitted that anticipatory bail could be allowed in cases of atrocities against Dalits, if no prima facie case was made out. This shows a double-faced character of the present government, one inside courts and the other outside before public and media,” the memorandum said.
The memorandum cited data of National Crime Records Bureau and said a crime is committed against Dalit women every 15 minutes in the country and six Dalit women were raped every day.
“Rape cases against Dalit women have doubled from 2007 to 2017 and a 66 per cent increase in atrocities against Dalits have been reported in the last 10 years. This situation has only worsened in the last 3-4 years under the regime of the present government at the Centre,” it said.