Mere Insult of a SC/ST person is not an offence under SC/ST Act unless victim abused on account of caste: SC

Team SoOLEGAL 6 Nov 2020 3:29pm

Mere Insult of a SC/ST person is not an offence under SC/ST Act unless victim abused on account of caste: SC

The Supreme Court held on 05.11.20 that insulting or intimidating a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (SC / ST) community does not, in itself, constitute an offence under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989, unless such insult or intimidation is on account of a victim belonging to the SC / ST community.


The bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao has observed while quashing a portion of the charge sheet and summoning order that "in the present case, the parties are litigating over possession of the land. The allegation of hurling of abuses is against a person who claims title over the property. If such a person happens to be a Scheduled Caste, the offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the Act is not made out.”


The case originated in a complaint filed against the appellant who was accused of entering the respondent’s house and hurling caste abuse and death threats. Thus, an FIR was registered against the appellant for trespassing offences, criminal intimidation and insulting and humiliating SC / ST persons.


A dispute on property between the appellant and the respondent had already been brought before the civil court when a criminal case against the appellant had been reported. It was the appellant’s case that the present case was brought under the SC / ST Act with the express intention of abusing him.


The Supreme Court observed that "the basic ingredients of the offence under Section 3(1) (r) of the Act can be classified as 1) intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe and 2) in any place within public view,” the court noted.


The Court has also held that, since it was accepted in the present case that the scene of the action had taken place within the four walls of the respondent’s house without members of the public, the action would not have satisfied the second condition of Section 3(1)(r) of the Act and that "any dispute arising on account of the 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." 


Tagged: Supreme Court   SC / ST community   Justice L. Nageswara Rao   criminal cases  
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