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Centre to issue ordinance to uphold SC, ST rights: Paswan

NEW DELHI, April 29:  The government will issue an ordinance to uphold the rights of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes if the Supreme Court does not go back on its judgment deleting the provision of immediate arrest on complaints from Dalits, says Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who asserts that the Constitution too will be amended if need be.
Paswan acknowledged that the government had a problem of perception on the Dalit issue but felt this can be set right in no time if sufficient steps were taken.
“This anti-Dalit perception of the government can be changed in mere two days. The matter will be heard on May 3 in the court. I have said that if the court’s verdict is not in favour (of those who demand retention of the original provisions), we (government) will go for an ordinance and that too without a change of comma and full stop in the original SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” Paswan told IANS in an interview.
Asked whether the government will seek to nullify the court verdict if it does not change its order, Paswan  said: “Yes. We will not allow the dilution of the Act at any cost. Even a comma and full-stop will be retained as in the Act. The Act will continue in its original form. We will do whatever needed to protect the rights of SCs and STs. If need be, we will go for constitutional amendment too”.
Paswan, the Dalit face of the NDA government, has been leading a campaign in pushing the government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the March 20 two-judge bench order that a government official or a civilian cannot be immediately arrested if an FIR is filed by a person belonging to SCs and STs.
The Supreme Court had said that arrest under the Act was not mandatory and recourse to coercive action would be taken only after preliminary inquiry and sanction by the competent authority. The court said the arrest should be cleared by an official of the Superintendent of Police after a complaint is filed.
The government filed a review petition earlier this month seeking an immediate stay of the judgment but the court refused to grant any relief saying the ruling had been misunderstand.
Paswan, a key member of the Group of Ministers on the issue headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, said the government would adopt a similar approach on reservation in promotions in government and public sector organizations.
“We are going to do the same for reservation in promotion. In this case, the Supreme Court has not said that reservation in promotion is unconstitutional but has put three conditions of backwardness, efficiency and representation.
“All the three conditions do not apply. No one can charge any SC/ST Class I officer that he is not efficient. I have asked the AG to go to court and put forward these points. Even if the court does not agree, we will not hesitate to bring an ordinance. If need be, we will bring amendments in the constitution”. IANS