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USAGE OF THE WORD 'HARIJAN' DOES NOT AMOUNT TO AN OFFENCE UNDER SC-ST ACT: Orissa High Court

Team SoOLEGAL 14 Mar 2019 4:05pm

USAGE OF THE WORD 'HARIJAN' DOES NOT AMOUNT TO AN OFFENCE UNDER SC-ST ACT: Orissa High Court

A complaint was filed against Damodar Rout alleging that while delivering his speech in 2010, he made the following remark:

"Now our A.D.M. is one Harijan. The MLA, Jagatsinghpur is one Harijan and our M.P. Bibhu Tarai has entered his name in Harijan List. They have joined against me." 
Orissa High Court had observed that if the words used in the speech are innocent and are not spoken with the intention of derogating the persons named in the F.I.R, then in such cases any third party cannot impose a meaning to it to make it sound insulting, intimidating or humiliating just because he belongs to the same caste or class. Quashing the criminal proceedings. Justice AK Mishra said:
"Words are innocents, they are vehicles of thought. A word may mean one thing in one context and another thing in another context. The speech alleged to have been made in the case at hand was extempore. In determining whether the unguarded words uttered by the petitioner had beyond the standard of the everyday believe and the habit, one should read the whole F.I.R. In doing so, it is found that the petitioner had not uttered word "Harijan" intentionally to insult anybody including informant. There is no need to mark the content of the F.I.R. by unvarying or a rigid line. It is enough to indicate that the word "Harijan" does not fall within the limit of offence under section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act in the context it was used in course of a speech." 
The High Court, thus, quashed a criminal case against Former Odisha Minister and observed that mere use of the word 'Harijan' during the course of the speech, without intention to insult anybody, does not fall within the limit of offence under section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989. It said:

"The contents of the F.I.R. taken at their face value and accepted in its entirety do not constitute the offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act. Consequently criminal proceeding in G.R. Case No. 574 of 2010 corresponding to Kujanga P.S. Case No. 233 dated 21.08.2010 pending in the court of J.M.F.C., Kujanga is quashed."

Tagged: OrissaHighCourt   JusticeAKMishra   DamodarRout  
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