New Delhi: A day After the nationwide Dalit protests against the dilution of SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday clarified that the government was in no mood to end the quota policy for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes in the country.
His assurance came a day after violent protests against a Supreme Court order by Dalits claimed nine lives. The court order dilutes a law on preventing atrocities against the marginalised communities in the country.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Rajnath Singh said ‘rumours’ were spread that the Union government wanted to end reservation.
“Rumours are being spread about the reservation policy. It is wrong and baseless. I appeal to all political parties to help in maintaining peace and amity in the country,” he said amid noisy protests in the house.
The Minister said that “the government is fully committed to protect the interests of the SCs/STs and that an advisory has been issued to all the states to ensure law and order”.
He said the government has provided all assistance to the states immediately on their request and is in constant touch with them.
Opposition members shouted slogans and were on their feet in protest against the Supreme Court’s March 20 order pertaining to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Conveying condolences to the families of people who lost their lives during Monday’s protests, Rajnath Singh said “he fully appreciates that there is widespread anger among the people on the Supreme Court order”.
Also Read: Supreme Court refuses to stay its order on SC/ST Act
“I wish to inform the house that the government of India was not party in that case. People have taken to the streets. I want to assure them there has been no dilution in law whatsoever by our government. Rather, after coming to power and examining the SC/ST Act, we have taken a decision to strengthen it,” he said.
Rajnath Singh said the then government passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act in 1995.
“As per the amendments, new offences were added. It was observed that due to the delay in filing of charge sheets (in cases of atrocities), the victims and witness who were vulnerable were influenced and silenced. In order to protect them, the provision of witness protection was introduced. The compensation payable to the victims was also enhanced,” the Home Minister said.
He said there has been a new provision wherein action against government servants found negligent in implementing the Act will be taken.
Rajnath Singh said the government acted swiftly and had already filed a petition in the top court to seek review of its order.
Trinamool Congress’ Kalyan Banerjee countered this, saying the Additional Solicitor General had given his consent to the Supreme Court’s decision.
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said the “dilution in the Act has already been done” and the opposition parties “want to discuss it” in the lower house of Parliament.
Also Read: Bharat Bandh: Eight dead as Dalit protests turn violent
AIADMK members, meanwhile, created a ruckus and gathered near Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s podium to demand early constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board to oversee water-sharing arrangement between Tamil Nadu, Karantaka, Kerala, and Puducherry.
Scindia also raised the issue of no-confidence motion moved by the opposition against the Narendra Modi government.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government was ready for a debate on the motion and blamed the Congress for creating disruptions.
“They are trying to halt the democratic process in the house,” Ananth Kumar said.
The Speaker said she was unable to proceed with the no-confidence motion notice and adjourned the house for the day.
This is the last week of the budget session that began on January 29 and went into a recess on February 9. The session resumed on March 5 and will conclude on April 6.
The post-break session has been completely washed out amid a logjam in both houses of Parliament. Important Budget bills were passed without debate amid protests.
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