top of page

All insults/intimidations will not be offence unless it's on account of victim belonging to SC/ST

All insults or intimidations to a person will not be an offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. The object of the Act is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as they are denied number of civil rights. Thus, an offence under the Act would be made out when a member of the vulnerable section of the Society is subjected to indignities, humiliations and harassment.(Para 13)

Hitesh Verma v. The State of Uttarakhand & Anr.

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 707 OF 2020 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CRIMINAL) NO. 3585 OF 2020)

Decided on November 5, 2020


A three judge-bench consisting of Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Ajay Rastogi decided the current litigation. In the present appeal, the Court held that a dispute between a person belonging to SC/ST community and a person from upper caste will not constitute an offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter the Act), unless the offence was on account of the victim belonging to the SC/ST community.


On 11.12.2019, an FIR was lodged by Respondent No.2 against the appellant and others for an alleged incident that occurred the previous day, under Sections 452, 504, 506 IPC and Section 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(e) of the Act, claiming that the appellant and others abused the applicant and her family members based on their caste and initiated death threats against them. Pursuant to this, Police filed a report disclosing offences under Sections 504, 506 IPC and Section 3(1)(x) of the Act and was taken cognizance by the Trial Court on 25.06.2020. The said order and the charge-sheet was challenged at the High Court under Section 482 of CrPC, but was unsuccessful.


At the same time, another FIR was lodged against Respondent No.2 and others for an alleged occurrence on 11.12.2019 and charge sheet was submitted for the same. The learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Pithoragarh had taken cognizance for the offences under Sections 323 and 354 IPC against Respondent No. 2 and others on 2.7.2020. While dismissing the petition, the High Court observed that the provisions of the Act will be applicable as the appellant admitted that the informant belonged to Scheduled Caste and that she and her labourers were abused.


The learned counsel for the appellant argued that disputes relating to the property is pending before the Civil Court and that the FIR was lodged on false grounds by Respondent No.2 to harass the appellant and abuse the process of law. Further, it was argued that the report does not disclose the caste of the informant nor the allegations that they were made in public view.


The learned counsel for the State submitted that the appellant and his family are encroachers on the informant’s land and that certain persons have supported the informant’s version during investigations.


The Court, on hearing both sides of the dispute, referred to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of enactment of the Act and stated:

The Act was enacted to improve the social economic conditions of the vulnerable sections of the society as they have been subjected to various offences such as indignities, humiliations and harassment. They have been deprived of life and property as well. The object of the Act is thus to punish the violators who inflict indignities, humiliations and harassment and commit the offence as defined under Section 3 of the Act. The Act is thus intended to punish the acts of the upper caste against the vulnerable section of the society for the reason that they belong to a particular community. (Para 10)


The Court also stated that Section 3(1)(x) of the Act stood substituted by Section 3(1)(r) of Act No.1 of 2016, which indicated intentional insult and intimidation to insult a member of the Scheduled Caste/Tribe. The parties availing their remedies is not for the reason that Respondent No.2 is a member of Scheduled Caste but in accordance with procedure established by law. In the present case, the parties are in dispute over possession of land and allegations of hurling abuses is against claims over the title of the property.


The Court stated:

All insults or intimidations to a person will not be an offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. The object of the Act is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as they are denied number of civil rights. Thus, an offence under the Act would be made out when a member of the vulnerable section of the Society is subjected to indignities, humiliations and harassment. The assertion of title over the land by either of the parties is not due to either the indignities, humiliations or harassment. Every citizen has a right to avail their remedies in accordance with law. Therefore, if the appellant or his family members have invoked jurisdiction of the civil court, or that respondent No.2 has invoked the jurisdiction of the civil court, then the parties are availing their remedies in accordance with the procedure established by law.(Para 13)


The Court viewed that allegations of abusing the informant were within the four walls of her building and hence it cannot be said to be a “place within public view”. Observing that the High Court erred in law to dismiss the petition, the Court stated the High Court misread the judgment of this Court in Ashabai Machindra Adhagale as it was not a case about the caste of the victim but the fact that the accused was belonging to upper caste was not mentioned in the FIR. The Court stated that the FIR lodged for other offences will be tried by the competent Court in accordance with law along with the criminal case.


The Court quashed the charge sheet on the basis that charges against the appellant under Section 3(1)(r) were not made out and disposed the appeal.



Jhanavi M


Commenti


Articles

bottom of page