Prevention of Atrocities Act & quota system: BJP and Congress are facing the heat in Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal: Ahead of the Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh, the anti-reservation movement led by SAPAKS (Samanya Pichda Alpsankhayak Kalyan Samaj) has intensified and there is also widespread anger in a large section of the people, especially among the youth, due to the amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act at the initiative of the BJP led NDA Government and brazen support of political parties of all hues.
Those from the unreserved category, cutting across religious and caste lines , are already angry because of the discriminatory provision for reservation that too for the SCs and STs in the creamy layer. The Madhya Pradesh Government officers and employees have been up in arms under the banner of SAPAKS (Samanya Pichda Alpsankhyak Adhikari karmchari Sanshta) after the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had gone on the offensive following the Jabalpur High Court order on 30 April 2016 declaring the State Government provision for Reservation in Promotion for SCs and STs. At his behest, the State Government not only went in appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court order but also did everything to delay the proceedings in this matter.
After the High Court judgement against reservation in promotion, the Chief Minister was quick in declaring that the State Government was ready to pay any fees to the Supreme Court advocates engaged by the State and also the officers and employees belonging to the SC/ST category. Chouhan has continued to remain a target of strong criticism on this count and also because he went to the extent of publicly daring the citizens by saying “Koi Mai ka Lal Arakshan Samapt Nahi Kar sakta) (no mother’s true son can abolish reservation). SAPAKS members have responded to the challenge thrown by the Chief Minister by wearing caps that carry the slogan “Hum hain Mai ke Lal” ( I am the true son of my mother)
The declaration by SAPAKS that it would be fielding candidates in all the 230 Assembly constituencies in the general elections to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly and the widespread anger and resentment that has spread across the State, is causing sleepless nights for those in the ruling BJP as well as in the main Opposition Congress party that was seeing the coming State Assembly election as an opportunity to return to power after 15 years in exile.
On Sunday night (2 September 2018), at about 9.30 pm, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Jan-Ashirwad Yatra (procession) was attacked by an angry mob at Churhat in Sidhi district.
According to reports received here, protesters started pelting stones when Chouhan’s Yatra reached Churhat. The Chief Minister’s decked up Van, also called Rath (chariot), was hit and the driver’s window was damaged.
A day earlier, also on Saturday (1 August 2018), angry protesters raised slogans during Chouhan’s vote garnering Yatra.
Union Minister Thavarchand Gehlot and senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia had to be escorted out by the police through the back door of the Guna Circuit House to escape the wrath of angry youth. The protesters were there to lodge protest and show their anger against the SC/ST Act.
Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar was gheraod (encircled) by slogan shouting supporters of SAPAKS in the Vidisha Circuit House on Saturday. They gave him a memorandum demanding that the draconian Prevention of Atrocities Act be withdrawn immediately.The same day in Bhind, BJP MP Bhagirath Prasad and in Morena State Minister Rustam Singh faced angry protesters who blocked their cars and raised slogans against the SC/ST Atrocities Act and the Modi Government at the Centre.
On Friday (31 August 2018), Scindia and BJP national Vice President Prabhat Jha were shown black flags in Gwalior district.
The Supreme Court had passed an order recently stating that for persons accused of committing an offence under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, approval of the Senior Superintendent of Police will be mandatory before any arrest.
In sharp contrast, the CrPC categorically defines the powers of arrest by police officers and what has been re-established in the case of complainants belonging to the SC/ST category by amending the SC/ST Atrocities Act in gross disregard of the Supreme Court order is discriminatory and strikes at the root of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution
Whereas, merely a complaint lodged by an SC or ST person can lead to arrest without investigation, a police officer can arrest without a warrant under Sections 41, 42, 151 CrPC, only in the following conditions:
- Who has been concerned in any cognizable offence or
- Who has in possession, without, lawful excuse, of any house breaking weapon or
- Who has been proclaimed as an offender either under CrPC or by order of the State Govt. or
Who is in possession of any stolen property or
- Who obstructs a police officer while in the execution of his duty or who has escaped, or attempts to escape, from lawful custody or
- Who is reasonably suspected of being a deserter from any of the Armed forces of the Union or
Who has been concerned in any law relating to extradition or
- Who, being a released convict commits a breach of any rule made under sub-section (5) of Section 356 CrPC or
- For whose arrest any requisition has been received from another police officer specifying the person to be arrested and the offence and other cause for which the arrest is to be made