Govt will bring ordinance on SC/ST Act if needed: Paswan

New Delhi, Apr 14 (PTI) Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said the NDA government is committed to maintaining the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in its original form and would consider bringing an ordinance if required.

Paswan, who has often aired this view within the government, expressed hope that the apex court would allow the government’s review plea against its order which, many argue, dilutes the legislation’s stringent provisions.

“The government is determined to maintaining the law as it was enacted. If it calls for bringing in a legislation, we will consider doing it,” he said.

Official sources said an ordinance can be brought if the apex court rejects the government’s review petition.

Dalit groups have been protesting the apex court order, which has allowed provision for anticipatory bail and introduced safeguards for accused.

A ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by them against it on April 2 had turned violent, leading to deaths of at least 11 people.

The sources said a group of ministers headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh had met on April 11 to discuss various aspects of the matter and a view emerged that the apex court order had created an “unrest”.

They also believed that an additional solicitor general, who had represented the Centre when the SC heard the matter, did not convey the official position forcefully.

Besides Singh, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thavarchand Gehlot attended the meeting.

The government has maintained that the court never made it formally a party to the case in which it delivered the order.

Paswan told reporters that the government has acted swiftly in the case by filing a review plea within two weeks of the order and rejected the Opposition’s charge that the NDA government was “anti-Dalit”.

It was the Modi government which amended the Act in 2016 to make it comprehensive and stringent, he said.

The government will also file an SLP in court to change a UGC guideline on quota in universities.