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'Casteist' Remark Case: Punjab & Haryana High Court Grants Interim Anticipatory Bail To Actress Munmun Dutta

Sparsh Upadhyay
4 Feb 2022 4:55 PM GMT
Casteist Remark Case: Punjab & Haryana High Court Grants Interim Anticipatory Bail To Actress Munmun Dutta
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted interim anticipatory bail to Actress Munmun Dutta (best known for her portrayal of Babita Iyer in the popular Hindi serial Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah) over 'Bhangi' remark, a casteist slur, allegedly made by her in a video posted in social media.The Bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan granted her interim anticipatory bail subject to her...

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted interim anticipatory bail to Actress Munmun Dutta (best known for her portrayal of Babita Iyer in the popular Hindi serial Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah) over 'Bhangi' remark, a casteist slur, allegedly made by her in a video posted in social media.

The Bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan granted her interim anticipatory bail subject to her joining the investigation in the matter within one week and listed the matter for further hearing on February 25, 2022.

The case in brief 

It may be noted that in total, five FIRs had been filed under Section 3(1)(u) Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against Munmun Dutta for the usage of the casteist slur in a youtube video. Bhangi is a Sub Caste declared Scheduled Caste in North India.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court for clubbing of all the FIRs and it was ordered by the Court that all the FIRs be clubbed and the one registered at Hansi city was ordered to be treated as the main FIR.

Her counsel, Advocate Ruchi Sekhri argued before the Court that the portion of the vlog, out of context was made viral and that the actor had publicly apologized for her statement and stated that there was a language barrier due to which she was not aware of its meaning.

She also contended that if the entire vlog is seen, she had used the objectionable term for herself. It is further argued that no offence under Section 3 of the Act is made out as the ingredients of Section 3(1)(u) are not fulfilled.

Court's observations 

At the outset, the Court noted that it would not be appropriate at this stage for the Court to hold a mini-trial to conclude as to whether the offence under Section 3 of the SC&ST Act [Punishments for offences of atrocities] is made out or not. 

Significantly, the Court also said that it would be a debatable issue that by use of an objectionable term describing herself, would itself be enough to fall within the ambit of Section 3(1)(u) of the Act.

"This Court exercises self restrains form saying that 'prima-facie the provisions of Act are not applicable, as it may affect the investigation and the trial. It would not be a stage to dilate as to whether a loosely used term would be enough to bring the issue within the teeth of the Provisions of the Act," the Court further added.

Also, regarding the argument put forth by AAG, Haryana that as per Section 18 of the SC/ST Act, there is a bar for grant of anticipatory bail, the Court referred to Prathvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India and others, AIR 2020 SC 1036, wherein the Apex Court had observed that if a prima facie case of applicability of the provisions of the SC/ST Act is not made out, the bar created by Section 18 would not apply.

With this, the Court granted her interim relief and ordered that in the event of her arrest, she shall be released on bail subject to her furnishing adequate bail bonds to the satisfaction of the Investigating Officer. 

Case title - MUN MUN DUTTA VS STATE OF HARYANA

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