Insult of SC-ST Person within House is Not an offence under SC-ST Act : Supreme Court

insult of SC-ST person within House

Hon’ble Supreme Court held that an insult of SC-ST person within House premises or four wall of House is Not an offence under SC-ST Act. The complete brief of the case are as follows : – 

Hitesh Verma vs. The State Of Uttarakhand (Supreme Court) decided on 05 Nov 2020

Brief : The challenge in the present appeal is to an order passed by the High Court whereby the petition filed by the Appellant under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) for quashing the charge-sheet as well as the summoning order was dismissed. The FIR in question was lodged by the Respondent No. 2. The FIR was lodged for the offences under Sections 452, 504, 506 and Section 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(e) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The learned counsel for the Appellant argued that, the disputes relating to the property are pending before the Civil Court and that, the present FIR has been filed on patently false grounds by Respondent No. 2 only to harass the Appellant and to abuse of process of law. It is argued that, the allegations levelled in the FIR and the subsequent report submitted by the Police after investigations does not disclose any offence under the Act. The report neither discloses the caste of the informant nor the allegations are that they were made in public view. Also, the offending words are not purported to be made for the reason that the informant is a person belonging to Scheduled Caste.

The SC-ST 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.

The offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the Act would indicate the ingredient of intentional insult and intimidation with an intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe. 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. 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.

Another key ingredient of the provision is insult or intimidation in “any place within public view”. What is to be regarded as “place in public view” had come up for consideration before present Court in Swaran Singh & Ors. v. State. The Court had drawn distinction between the expression “public place” and “in any place within public view”. It was held that if an 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, then the lawn would certainly be a place within the public view. On the contrary, if the remark is made inside a building, but some members of the public are there (not merely relatives or friends) then it would not be an offence since it is not in the public view.

As per the FIR, the allegations of abusing the informant were within the four walls of her building. It is not the case of the informant that, there was any member of the public (not merely relatives or friends) at the time of the incident in the house. Therefore, the basic ingredient that the words were uttered “in any place within public view” is not made out. In the list of witnesses appended to the charge-sheet, certain witnesses are named but it could not be said that those were the persons present within the four walls of the building. The offence is alleged to have taken place within the four walls of the building. Therefore, in view of the judgment of this Court in Swaran Singh, it cannot be said to be a place within public view as none was said to be present within the four walls of the building as per the FIR and/or charge-sheet.

There is a dispute about the possession of the land which is the subject matter of civil dispute between the parties as per Respondent No.2 herself. Due to dispute, Appellant and others were not permitting respondent No.2 to cultivate the land for the last six months. Since the matter is regarding possession of property pending before the Civil Court, any dispute arising on account of possession of the said property would not disclose an offence under the Act unless the victim is abused, intimated or harassed only for the reason that she belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.

This Court in a judgment reported as Ishwar Pratap Singh & Ors.v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr. held that there is no prohibition under the law for quashing the charge-sheet in part. In a petition filed under Section 482 of the CrPC, the High Court is required to examine as to whether its intervention is required for prevention of abuse of process of law or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. The charges against the Appellant under Section 3(1)(r) of the Act are not made out. Consequently, the charge-sheet to that extent is quashed. The appeal is disposed of.

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