By now none of us are really surprised by the double standards of the BJP government. If we are, it reflects badly on us as they’ve generously given us four years of training. So it isn’t much of a surprise when three BJP states send out formal directives enforcing the diluted SC/ST Act while the review petition is still in hearing. It is disappointing and frustrating, but somehow the lack of surprise in itself reflects how normalised we are to their double standards.
On March 20th, the Supreme Court passed a judgment diluting the provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act. Now, it is mandatory to seek prior sanction in writing from the appointing authority if the accused is a public servant, and from the senior superintendent of police of the district if the accused is not a public servant. There is also no absolute bar against granting of anticipatory bail under the Act if there was no prima facie case against the accused. This judgment, reflecting very little of the reality of discrimination faced by SC/ST communities, led to a nationwide protest on April 2nd. The Central Government, under immense pressure, filed a review petition, publicly acknowledged the shortcomings of the judgment and promised these communities that their welfare will be ensured. Yet it was in the states of the same government that the diluted law has been formally directed to be enforced. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, where the diluted Act is being enforced, has close to 13%, 15%, 17% of SC population respectively and 30%, 21% and 13% of ST population respectively. Let these numbers give us a perspective of the number of people to whom justice will be denied if this diluted law is enforced. This sneaky move comes when the Supreme Court has agreed to a review petition filed by the Central Government. If this does not smell of double standards or crack open the chest of lies that the BJP has been brewing regarding SC/ST welfare, let us look at the example of Chhattisgarh. In Chhatisgarh, the official order to enforce the diluted Act came on April 6th. This was followed by our PM’s visit to the state where he publicly assured that the Central Government would not allow any dilution of the Act. The people caught on to this lie pretty quickly forcing the Chief Minister of the state to suspend the order.
This double standard or ‘jumla’ in a more local sense has become BJP’s ever guiding adjective. Whether it is jobs, economy or the welfare of the marginalised, so much is spoken but so little is done.