New Delhi: Observing that there is large-scale misuse of the law, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held that arrest of an accused is not mandatory under the provisions of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and accused are entitled for anticipatory bail.
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 disputes 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.
The bench noted that harassment of an innocent citizen, irrespective of caste or religion, is against the guarantee of the Constitution and that the court must enforce such a guarantee.
The bench made it mandatory for the police to conduct a preliminary investigation to arrive at a decision whether an FIR deserves to be registered under the parameters of the Atrocities Act or not.
It added that even if an FIR is lodged, the accused would not be arrested automatically. “There is need to safeguard innocent citizens against false implication and unnecessary arrest,” said the judges, as they laid down that arrest is not at all mandatory under Act....