January 30th 2018

Today, a 2 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court declined to stay the 2018 Amendment to SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (the Act).

In addition to the petitions challenging the Act, there are also review petitions of the Kashinath Mahajan pending before the Court. The 2018 Amendment effectively nullified the original judgment.

Usually, the Bench that delivered the judgment hears the review petition. A Bench of U.U. Lalit and A.K. Goel JJ delivered the judgment in  Subhash Kashinath Mahajan. However, Goel J has since retired.

In the previous hearing, the 3 Judge Bench hearing the challenge to the Amendment decided to take the unusual step of clubbing together the challenge to the Amendment along with the review petitions challenging Kashinath Mahajan. Note that the scope of a writ petition is much broader than the scope of a review petition, so it is unusual for them to be clubbed together. The Bench referred the clubbed matters to the CJI, so that he may list them before an appropriate Bench.

The CJI listed the matter for hearing today before a Bench of  U U Lalit and Indu Malhotra JJ. The counsel Vikas Singh representing the petitioner Priya Sharma sought for a stay on the operation on the amendment as that there cannot be review hearings and a substantive challenge to the Amendment at the same time.

The Court has however declined to stay the amendment and listed the case for final hearing on 19th February, 2019.