India’s top court has restored provisions of a law designed to protect socially poor indigenous and Dalit people from atrocities, eliciting applause from Christian leaders and rights groups.

The Supreme Court on February 10 revoked its directions issued two years ago regarding the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, a stringent law introduced in 1989 to punish those who attack the former untouchable people.

“It is a matter of great joy that the top court has upheld the original law,” said Bishop Paul Toppo of Raigarh. “The law was to empower the indigenous and Dalit people, who are on the lowest ladder of the Indian caste system.”

The court reversal comes after a series of protests, campaigning and a review petition from the federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was under attack from tribal and Dalit leaders for not supporting the cause of their people, who together form 27 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people.

UCA News