Insulting SC/ST individuals not offence below SC/ST Act, until sufferer abused for caste: SC


Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 6

All insults or intimidations to a person will not be an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, unless such insult or intimidation is on account of victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Clarifying the legal position on the stringent SC/ST Act, a Bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao on Thursday said it was essential to establish that there was an intention to humiliate the victim because he belonged to such a caste.

“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,” it said, citing Section 3(1) of the Act that talks of insult or intimidation done in “any place within public view”.

The top court noted that the object of the Act is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as they are denied a number of civil rights. The special law is intended to punish the acts of the upper caste against the vulnerable sections of the society for the reason that they belong to a particular community, it added.

The verdict came on a petition challenging an Uttarakhand High Court order dismissing the petitioner’s plea for quashing of a chargesheet and summoning order against him for an offence under the SC/ST Act for hurling casteist abuses.

Noting that the allegations were within the four walls of the building and there was no member of the public present at the time of the incident in the house, the top court held that the SC/ST Act was not attracted.

The basic ingredient that the words were uttered ‘in any place within public view’ was not made out, it said.

The offence under the Act was not established merely on the fact that the informant was a member of SC/ST unless there was an intention to humiliate him/her for the reason that the victim belonged to such a caste, the top court said, quashing the charges under the SC/ST Act.

 



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