Dalit Organisations Launch 'Bharat Bandh' Today, Protesting Supreme Court Ruling On SC/ST Act

| April 2 , 2018 , 11:33 IST

Several Dalit organisations protesting the dilution of the SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court on March 20, launched their nation-wide Bharat Bandh protest on Monday. The protests are expected to take place despite the Central government confirming that a review petition on the SC/ST Act would be filed with the Supreme Court on Monday.

The call for 'Bharat Bandh' was first given by Dalit group Sanvidhaan Bachao Sangharash Committee on Wednesday, and was later supported by the All India Adi Dharam Mission and All India Adi Dharam Sadhu Samaj. In Punjab, the protest call was led by the state’s Samvidhan Bachao Morcha of 200 Dalit and Valmiki organisations.

The Punjab government has announced that in view of the Bharat Bandh call, the state would be suspending public transport services and mobile internet as well. The CBSE Class 12 and 10 examinations in Punjab scheduled for Monday have also been postponed, and all schools in the state would remain closed as well as banks.

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The Supreme Court on March 20 had issued a directive on the otherwise stringent Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, announcing that no automatic arrest should be made in such cases.

A two-judge Supreme Court bench of Justices UU Lalit and AK Goel cited misuse of the SC/ST Act while issuing its directive, laying down safeguards such as provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary inquiry” before registering a case under the Act.

The apex court's directive was slammed by the Opposition, with Congress President Rahul Gandhi calling the SC/ST Act the most important instrument to prevent atrocities on Dalits/Adivasis.