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The SC and ST Prevention Of Atrocities Act, 1989 - Latest Judgments

The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 And Latest Important Judgments

In spite of various measures to improve the show economic conditions of the scheduled castes and the scheduled Tribes, they remain vulnerable. They are denied number of civil rights. The subjected to various offences, indignities, humiliations and harassment. They have, in several brutal incidents, being deprived of their life and property. Serious crimes are committed against them for various historical, social and economic reasons.

Due to the awareness created amongst the scheduled castes and scheduled Tribes through spread of education, they're trying to assert their rights and this is not being taken very kindly by the authors stop when the assert their rights and resist practices of untouchability against them or demand statutory minimum wages or refused to do any bonded and forced labour, the vested interests tried to call them down and terrorize them. When the scheduled castes and scheduled Tribes try to preserve their self-respect or honour of their women, they became irritants for the dominant and the mighty. of late, there has been an increase in the disturbing trend of commission of certain atrocities stopped the normal provisions of the previously existing laws such as protection of civil rights act 1955 and the Indian penal code but found to be inadequate to check these atrocities and hence the necessity was felt to enact the scheduled castes and the Scheduled Tribes (prevention of atrocities) act, 1989 to check and deter crimes against the scheduled castes and scheduled Tribes.

Object of the Act
the statement of objects and reasons of the act state that this act has been inducted to prevent commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the scheduled castes and the scheduled Tribes, to provide for special courts for the trial of such offences and for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Salient features of the Act
This act has defined the term atrocities in clause a of section 2 is an offence punishable under section 3. Section 3 of the act, prior to the amendment in 2016, read as under:-

Punishments for offences of atrocities

(1)Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe,-
forces a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance;

(ii) acts with intent to cause injury, insult or annoyance to any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe by dumping excreta, waste matter, carcasses or any other obnoxious substance in his promises or neighborhood;

(iii) forcibly removes clothes from the person of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or parades him naked or with painted face or body or commits any similar act which is derogatory to human dignity;

(iv) wrongfully occupies or cultivates any landowned by, or allotted to, or notified by any competent authority to be allotted to, a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or gets the land allotted to him transferred;

(v) wrongfully dispossesses a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interferes with the enjoyment of his rights over any land, premises or water;

(vi) compels or entices a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to do 'beggar' or other similar forms of forced or bonded labor other than any compulsory service for public purposes imposed by Government;

(vii) forces or intimidates a member. of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe not to vote or to vote to a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law;

(viii) institutes false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe;

(ix) gives, any false or frivolous information to any public servant and thereby causes such public servant to use his lawful power to the injury or annoyance of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe;

(x) intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view;

(xi) assaults or uses force to any woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with intent to dishonor or outrage her modesty;

(xii) being in a position to dominate the will of a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe and uses that position to exploit her sexually to which she would not have otherwise agreed;

(xiii) corrupts or fouls the water of any spring, reservoir or any other source ordinarily used by members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes so as to render it less fit for the purpose for which it is ordinarily used;

(xiv) denies a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe any customary right of passage to a place of public resort or obstructs such member so as to prevent hint from using or having access to a place of public resort to which other members of public or any section thereof have a right to use or access to;

(xv) forces or causes a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to leave his house, village or other place of residence, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.

(2) Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe,-
(i) gives or fabricates false evidence intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to be convicted of an offence which is capital by the law for the time being in force shall be punished with imprisonment for life and with fine; and if an innocent member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe be convicted and executed in consequence of such false orfabricated evidence, the person who gives or fabricates such false evidence, shall be punished with death;

(ii) gives or fabricates false evidence intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to be convicted of an offence which is not capital but punishable with imprisonment for a term of seven years or upward, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to seven years or upwards and with fine;

(iii) commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance intending to cause or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause damage to any property belonging to a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to seven years and with fine;

(iv) commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance intending to cause or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause destruction of any building which is ordinarily used as a place of worship or as a place for human dwelling or as a place for custody of the property by a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine;

(v) commits any offence under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1.860) punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more against a person or property on the ground that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine;

(vi) knowingly or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed under this Chapter, causes any evidence of the commission of that offence to disappear with the intention of screening the offender from legal punishment, or with that intention gives any information respecting the offence which he knows or believes to be false, shall he punishable with the punishment provided for that offence; or

(vii) Being a public servant, commits any offence under this section, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to the punishment provided for that offence.

(viii) The scheduled castes and scheduled Tribes amendment act 2015 received the assent of the President on 31' of December 2015 and was duly notified on 01/01/2016. Itwas amended the aforesaid section 3 and added various other offences therein such as:

A Putting in or obnoxious substance into the mouth of a member of a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe or forces such member to drink or eat such incredible or obnoxious substance dumping excreta, see which or any other of noxious substance in premises or at the entrance of the premises occupied by a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe.

B. dumping excreta, waste matter or any other obnoxious substance in the neighborhood of any member of scheduled castes and scheduled tribe with intent to cause injury, insult or annoyance to any such member

C. Garland's with footwear or parades naked or semi naked a member or scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe

D. forcibly commits a member of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe any act, such as removing clothes from the person, forcible tonsuring of head, removing moustaches, painting face or body or any other similar act which is derogatory to human dignity

H. Makes a member of a scheduled caste and scheduled tribe to do beggar or other forms of forced or bonded labor

I. Compulsive member of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribe to dispose or carry human or animal carcass or to dig graves

J. Makes a member of a scheduled caste and scheduled tribe to do manual scavenging or employees or permits the employment of such member for such purpose

P. Institute is false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe

Q. Gives any false or frivolous information to any public servant and thereby causes such public servant to use his lawful power to the injury or annoyance of a member of a scheduled caste and scheduled tribe.

R. Intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe in any place within public view

S. Abuses any member of a scheduled caste and scheduled tribe by caste name in any place within public view

W. (i) intentionally touches of woman belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribe knowing that she belongs to a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe, when such act of touching is of a sexual nature and is without the recipient's consent
(ii) uses words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature towards a woman belonging to a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe knowing that she belongs to scheduled castes and scheduled Tribes.

Provided that a woman belonging to a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe who does not offer physical resistance to any act of a sexual nature is not by reason only of that fact, is to he regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.

Provided further that a woman's sexual history including with the offender shall not imply consent or mitigate the offence.

Z C. Imposes or threatens a social or economic boycott of any person or family or a group belonging to a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 6 months but which may extend to 5 years and with fine.

The most commonly alleged offences are contained in the provision of section 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(xi) of the old act. Section 3(1 )(x) has been retained as section 3(1 )(r) and 3(1 )(s) in the newly amended section whereas section3(I )(xi) has been refrained as section3(1)(w) in the newly amended act.

Section 3(1) (x) of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (prevention of atrocities) act, 1989 reads as under:
3. (1) whoever, not being a member of a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe,-
(x) Intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe in any place within public view;
There are 3 ingredients which are required to be satisfied for the commission of the aforesaid orphans:
1.the accused must not be a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe

2.He insult or intimidate with the intent to humiliate a member of a
scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe

3.It must be any place within public view.

From the provision if has to be understood that the main element constituting the offence is causing intentional insult or intimidation. Further, such an act must be with an intention to humiliate a member of scheduled caste or scheduled tribe in any place within public view. Therefore, unless there is intentional insult or intimidation, mere utterance of words in the caste name does not constitute the offence. Moreover, unless it is alleged that the informant/complainant was insulted or intimidated in any place within public view, the offence would not be attracted.

In Gorige Pentaiah VS State of AP. & others 2008(4) R.C.R. (Criminal) 171,Supreme Court of India, held as under: Complaint filed by a number of scheduled caste that accused abused him with the name of his caste - it was not stated in the complaint that accused was not a member of the scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe and he intentionally insulted or intimidated with intent to humiliate the complainant in a place within public view - basic ingredients of offence were missing in the complaint - complaint quashed.

Meaning within the public view:
Bajirao v. State of Maharashtra (Bombay) (Aurangabad Bench)2015(3) Bom.C.R (cri.) 190, it was held as under:
"14. It is already observed that for proof of the offence punishable under section 3(1) (x) of the act it is necessary to prove third ingredient of the offence viz. the act was committed at a place "within public view."
The learned counsel for the petitioner placed reliance on some reported cases to show as to how the last ingredient is interpreted. In the case reported asBalu Galande v. State of Maharashtra Aurangabad Benchof this court had occasion to consider this term. The learned single judge considered the observations made by the Delhi high court (in the matter decided by 3 judges, per majority) and reported as(2004) Delhi Law Crimes 915 Daya Bhatnagar & others v. Stale. It appears that the Delhi high court considered the principle that "graver is the offence stronger should be the proof'. The Delhi high court held that it is condition about the place and it is created with particular purpose. It is observed that meaning of this term is that public persons present (however small in number it may be), should be independent, impartial and not interested in any of the parties. In other words, the persons having any Kind of close relationship or associated with the complainant would necessarily get excluded. Thus, the interpretation shows that the utterance of abuses should be heard and viewed at least by one independent person. The learned single judge of this court observed that the witnesses who are relatives, friends, persons having blood relationship or the persons having close business or fiduciary relationship with complainant/victim are excluded from the purview of word "public" used in this ingredient. The learned single judge of this court then considered one judgment reported as V.P. Shetty,v. Senior inspector of Police in which the case reported as Bat Taxmibai pool v. State of Maharashtra was referred. The learned single judge then observed that to attract the offence both the conditions that
(1) the act amounting to insult should be audible; and,
(2) visible to the public, should be satisfied.

The aforesaid matter was decided by the learned single judge of this court on 13-4-2006. Then came the decision of a division bench of this court from the principal seat which is reported asPradnya Kenkare v. State of Maharashtra. Interpretation and conclusion of the division bench of the aforesaid term can be found in paragraph S of the reported judgment which is as under:-

8. However, the learned advocate is justified in contending that the complaint nowhere discloses that the said expression was used in public view. In fact, the contents of the fir nowhere disclose that the said expression was communicated to the complainant either in the place accessible to the public or in the presence of the public. It is nowhere stated by the complainant that at the time when the said statement was made by the petitioner no. 2, i.e. on 15th august, 2004 at 9.30 a.m., there was any stranger to witness the said incident. The provision of section 3(1) (x) of the said act would He attracted only in case of insulting or intimidating a member of the scheduled caste in any place within a public view. The expression "in any place within public view" has specific meaning. It does not mean that every allegation made in a public place that itself would amount to an offence under the said act. The expression "public view" has been prefixed by the preposition "within" which in fact follows the expression "in any place". In other words, the expression relating to the location of the alleged offence is qualified by the requirement of being "within public view". The act of insult or intimidation must be visible and audible to the public in order to constitute such act to be an offence under section 3(1) (x) of the said act. In the provision of law comprised under section 3(1) (x) of the said act, the word "view" refers to that of 'public' but prefixed by the expression "in any place within-. Being so, the word "public" not only relates to the location defined by the word "place" but also to the subjects witnessing the incidence of insult or intimidation to the member of scheduled caste or tribe. Therefore, the incidence of insult or intimidation has to occur in a place accessible to and in the presence of the public. The presence of both these ingredients would he absolutely necessary to constitute an offence under the said provision of law. The complaint disclosing absence of both or even any one of those ingredients would not be sufficient to accuse the person of having committed an offence under section 3(1)(x) of the said act."

The division bench has summed up the meaning in following sentence:-
"Therefore, the incidents of insult or intimidation have to occur in place accessible to and in the presence of public. The presence of both these ingredients would be absolutely necessary to constitute the offence."
Subsequent to the aforesaid decision, the Hon'ble apex court gave meaning of the aforesaid ingredient in the case reported as2008(4) R.C.R. (Criminal) 74: 2009 (2) MH. L.J. 22 Swaran Singh v. State. The relevant portion of the decision is in paragraph 28 and as under:-

"28. It has been alleged in the fir that vinod nagar, the first informant, was insulted by appellants 2 and 3 (by calling him a "chamar') when he stood near the car which was parked at the gate of the premises. In our opinion, this was certainly a place within public view, since the gate of a house is certainly a place within public view. It could have been a different matter had the alleged offence been committed inside a building, and also was not in the public view. However, if the offence is committed outside the building e.g. in a lawn outside a house, and the lawn can be seen by someone from the road or lane outside the boundary wall, the lawn would certainly be a place within the public view. Also even if the remark is made inside a building, but some members of the public are there (not merely relatives or friends) then also it would be an offence since it is in the public view. We must, therefore, not confuse the expression 'place within public view' with the expression 'public place'. A place can be a private place but yet within the public view. On the other hand, a public place would ordinarily mean a place which is owned or leased by the government or the municipality (or other local body) or gaon sabha or an instrumentality of the stage, and not by private persons or private bodies.

19. The decision of the apex court shows that wider meaning is given by the apex court to the ingredient than the meaning given by the learned single judge and the division bench of this court in the cases cited supra. In short, the apex court has given the meaning of this place as:-

(1)the place is within public view when it can be seen by public, but not necessary that persons passing by that side saw or heard the incident and, also;
(2)the place which is not visible to public but in that case if the incident took place when some members of public were there (not merely relatives or friends) it turns into the place within public view.

In State v.Prakasli Delhi, 2014(1) JCC657 2013(22) R.C.R. (Criminal) 354, held as under:
Complainant lodged original complaint having no mention in whose presence the offending words were used by the respondents/accused persons - no material placed on record to show that the respondents/accused persons were having the knowledge that the complainant was a member of SC ST community - nothing produced on record showing fact that the offending words were used in full public view - no mention of the names of alleged witnesses in the complaint - the witnesses have alleged themselves to be the eye witnesses - fir lodged after delay of 3 days - no explanation to delay - offence undersection 3 ( x )of the SC ST Actnot made out - revision petition is dismissed - 2004(2) jet 1136 - relied upon.

Grant of anticipatory bail under SC ST act:

Section 18 of the act reads as under:
18. Section 438 of the code not to apply to persons committing an offence
under the act -Nothing in section 438 of the code shall apply in relation to any
case involving the arrest of any person on an accusation of having committed anoffence under this act.

Hon'ble Supreme Court has been called upon numerous occasions to decide upon issue as to whether the above said section 18 casts an absolute bar to the ground of anticipatory bail in cases registered under the SC ST Act.

In State of MP versus Ramkrishna Balothia 1995(.3 SCC 221,Hon' ble SC sat upon the constitutional validity of the said section 18 and it was held not to be violative of articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The Hon'ble supreme court in Vilaspawar and another v. State of Maharashtra and others 2012 (8)SCC 795had an occasion to deal with the question as to whether .he high court or court of session can exercise discretion to grant anticipatory bail when a case was registered against the accused under the provisions of prevention of atrocities act, the supreme court laid down the law in the following terms.

"Section 18 of the SC ST Act creates a bar for invoking section 438 of the code. However, a duty is cast on the court to verify the averments in the complaint and to find out whether an offence under section 3(1) of the SC ST Act has been prima facie made out. In other words, if there is a specific averment in the complaint, namely, Insult or intimidation with intent to humiliate by calling with caste name, the accused persons are not entitled to anticipatory bail.

"The scope of section 18 of the SC ST Act read with section 438 of the code is such that it creates -a specific bar in the grant of anticipatory bail. When an offence is registered against a person tinder the provisions of the SC ST Act, no court shall entertain application for anticipatory bail, unless it prima facie finds that such an offence is not made out. Moreover, while considering the application for bail, scope for appreciation of evidence and other material on record is limited. Court is not expected to indulge in critical analysis of the evidence on record. When a provision has been enacted in the special act to protect the persons who belong to the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes and a bar has been imposed in granting bail under section 438 of the code, the provision in the special act cannot be easily brushed aside by elaborate discussion on the evidence."

From the judgment of the Supreme Court, it is clear that the court invested with the discretion to grant anticipatory bail is not precluded from examining the contents of FIR/Complaint to find out whether prima facie an offence under the provisions of the prevention of atrocities act is made out. The court however, is not supposed to examine the veracity of the allegations mentioned in the first information report, but it can examine the limited question as to whether the offence under the provisions of atrocities act is attracted or not even the allegations mentioned in the first information report/complaint are taken at their face value considering them to be true.

Now, in the landmark judgment titled his manner that they were the ones again suicide attacker who saw the tae kwon do the Reagan and files of nation Dr Subash Kashinath Mandan versus state of Maharashtra and another. Criminal Appeal no4169 of 2018Hon'ble Supreme Court again discussed the issue of ground of anticipatory bail under the SC ST act. After detailed discussion of the above said case law along with various other rulings rendered by various high Courts it has held as under:

"74. It is thus pretend that in cases under the atrocities act, exclusion of right of anticipatory bail is applicable only if the case is shown to be bona fide and that prima facie it [alts under the atrocities act and not otherwise. Section 18 does not apply where there is no prima facie case or to cases of patent false implication or when the allegation is motivated for extraneous reasons. We approve the view of Gujarat High Court in Pankaj d Suthar and Dr NT Desai. We clarify the judgments in Balothia and Manju Devi to this effect."

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