Cabinet nod for new law for protection of Dalits and tribals against atrocities

• Agreeing to the demands made by Dalits across the country, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Wednesday decided to bring a bill in the ongoing monsoon session to restore the provisions of the law on atrocities against scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST).

• Dalit groups in the country were annoyed after Supreme Court introduced safeguards Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, or SC/ST Act, claiming that the changes introduced by the apex court had made the law toothless.

• The move comes in the backdrop of an ongoing monsoon session of Parliament and just days ahead of a nationwide call for protest by Dalit groups on 9 August.

• A news report by Press Trust of India said quoting sources that the cabinet has given its nod to restore the original provisions of a law on atrocities against Dalits and tribals.

• Speaking to reporters in New Delhi after the meeting, union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government was committed to working for the upliftment of Dalits and tribals. While he did not elaborate anymore saying that details would be shared in the Parliament.

• The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is under tremendous pressure from its alliance partners, Lok JanShakti Party president and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan who has demanded that the union government should bring a new law in Parliament to overturn the order of the Supreme Court. Several Members of Parliament (MPs) across party lines had joined hands to speak against the Supreme Court directions on the issue.

• Earlier this year in April, six people were killed and several were injured as a Bharat Bandh was called by Dalits. Interestingly, a similar pan-India protest by Dalits and tribals was being organised on 9 August and the decision of the union cabinet comes a little over a week before the protests.