After The 2016 Amendment, Mere Knowledge Of The Accused that Victim Is SC/ST Is Sufficient For Prosecution Under SC/ST Act: SC [Read Judgment]

Prior to amendment, statute laid stress on the intention of the accused in committing such offence in order to belittle the person as he/she belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe community, the bench observed.

The Supreme Court, in Asharfi vs State of Uttar Pradesh, has observed that after the amendment of the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act carried out in 2016, mere knowledge of the accused that the person upon whom the offence is committed belongs to the community suffices to bring home the charge under Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

The apex court bench was considering an appeal filed by a man convicted concurrently by the high court and the trial court in a rape case. Since the victim belonged to the SC/ST community, the accused was also convicted under Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, and was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment with fine.

The bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R Banumathi observed, that prior to the amendment, the words used in Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act were "......on the ground that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe" and hence it is clear that the statute laid stress on the intention of the accused in committing such offence in order to belittle the person as he/she belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe community.

The court, acquitting him of the offence charged under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, observed that evidence and materials on record do not show that the appellant had committed rape on the victim on the ground that she belonged to Scheduled Caste and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act (prior to amendment) can be pressed into service only if it is proved that the rape has been committed on the ground that the victim belonged to the Scheduled Caste community.

If subsequent to 26.01.2016 (i.e. the day on which the amendment came into effect), an offence under Indian Penal Code which is punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more, is committed upon a victim who belongs to SC/ST community and the accused person has knowledge that such victim belongs to SC/ST community, then the charge of Section 3(2)(v) of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act is attracted,” it said.

The conviction under Section 376(2)(g) IPC and other offences and sentence of imprisonment imposed were confirmed by the court.

Read the Judgment Here