Unless Caste-Based Insult Intended, Mention Of Victim's Caste Not An Offence Under SC/ST Act: Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court has held that mere hurling of abuses without any intention to insult or make casteist remarks will not become an offence under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna partly allowed the petition filed by one Shailesh Kumar V and quashed charges levelled against him under Section 3(1)(r) &(s) of the Act, while sustaining and permitting continuation of proceedings for charges under the Indian Penal Code.
“Mere taking the name of the caste of the victim would not make it an offence, unless it is with an intention to insult the person belonging to the said caste," said the court.
One Jayamma lodged a complaint on 14-06-2020 that her son and the petitioner along with their friends had played a cricket match in which her son and his team had suffered defeat, due to which, some altercations took place between the petitioner and the son of the complainant and his friends.
It was alleged that the son of the complainant was taken away and beaten. Following which, the police registered an FIR against the petitioner and one Punit under provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
The investigation revealed that certain abuses in “filthy language” were also made by the petitioner and others against the son of the complainant. The offences punishable under the Act were then added to the case.
Sessions Judge vide order dated 01-03-2021 took cognizance of the offences alleged in the charge sheet — Sections 143, 147, 323, 324, 365, 504, 506 r/w 149 of IPC and Section 3(1)(r) & (s) of the Act. The order of taking cognizance was challenged before high court.
The petitioner’s counsel contended that there was no hurling of abuses as is alleged and all the allegations sprang up because of a game of cricket that had gone wrong the previous day. It was argued that mere hurling of abuses without any intention to insult or make casteist remarks would not become an offence under the Act.
The bench noted that in the initial complaint soon after the incident, there was no complaint made that the petitioner had hurled abuses taking the name of the caste of the son of the complainant. The allegation was only using filthy language and threatening the life of the son of the complainant.
“Insofar the offences under the Act is concerned, what is narrated is only that as an outcome of the game of cricket certain altercations happen between the complainant and the accused and the accused has abused the complainant taking the name of his caste. Except this statement, there is no whisper about the petitioner having hurled abuses by taking the name of caste of the complainant intentionally to insult or humiliate by making casteist remarks,” said the court.
Referring to sections 3(1)(r) & (s) of the Act, the bench said the soul of the provision is intention. The insult should be intentional and the intimidation should be with intent to humiliate a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, it added.
“The charge sheet or the statements do not narrate any other circumstance except saying that the name of the caste of the son of the complainant was also used when abuses were hurled. There is no narration of any intention to insult or humiliate taking the name of the caste either in the statements or in the summary of the charge sheet,” it said.
Observing that mere taking the name of the caste of the victim would not make it an offence, unless it is with an intention to insult the person belonging to the said caste, the court said, “that being conspicuously absent in the case at hand, permitting further proceedings to continue qua the offences under the Act would become an abuse of the process of law.”
“Insofar as the other offences are concerned, there is undoubtedly material right from the complaint till the charge sheet for offences punishable under Sections 323, 324, 365, 504 and 506 of IPC which are all to be tried. There is ample evidence in the statements and the narration in the summary of the chargesheet albeit prima facie to bring home those offences. It is for the petitioner to come out clean in the offences under the IPC. Since the offences are grave in nature, there can be no interference insofar as offences under the IPC are concerned,” the court said.
Case Title: Shailesh Kumar V And State of Karnataka
Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION No.2797 OF 2022
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 31
Date of Order: 17-01-2023
Appearance: Advocate Jaysham Jayasimha Rao for petitioner
HCGP K.P.Yashodha For R1.