Even After 75 Years Of Independence, Downtrodden People Can't Do Business Equally As Upper Caste People: Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court, while refusing to quash proceedings against accused under the Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, said that despite the completion of 75 years of independence of India, "the downtrodden people [are] not able to do any business equal to that of any other business people who were said to be in upper caste."
The court made the observation in the judgment on a petition seeking quashing of the proceedings against the petitioners. who had allegedly threatened a resort owner, belonging to the Wadda community (stone cutters).
Justice K Natarajan observed that “the other caste people are still doing atrocity over the person who is trying to lead a happy life and to keep up the life and liberty on par with the other people.”
The bench rejected the petition filed by Padmanabha N S and others who have been charged under Section 143, 341, 447, 504, 506, 384 read with 149 of IPC Section 3(1) (r) (s) of the Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, based on the complaint of on D Srinivas.
“The offence committed by the accused not only affects the right of business as guaranteed under Article 19 of Constitution of India and also life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of Constitution of India and using the same caste people against the complainant is nothing but following the divide and rule policy, which cannot be allowed," said the court.
As per the complaint filed on 30.7.2019, the complainant is running a resort. The owners of the land on which the resort is built are said to have made an agreement with one of the accused persons. The accused allegedly tried to intervene with the complainant's possession. Therefore, the complainant filed a civil suit and obtained the injunction order against them.
However, on 29.7.2019, the accused persons came to the resort and threatened the complainant with dire consequences. Hence, a complaint was lodged. During the investigation, the police invoked Section 3 of SC & ST Act. After the investigation, the police filed the charge sheet. The petitioners had earlier moved an application before the Special Court for discharge, which came to be rejected. Following which they approached the high court.
The petitioners' counsel contended that accused Nos.3 and 4 i.e., petitioner Nos.2 and 3 belong to the community of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe, therefore Section 3 of the SC&ST Act will not be attracted against them. Moreover, the trial court has not properly given any finding in the discharge application.
The bench said when the complainant is in possession of the property and running the business after obtaining the injunction order from the competent Civil Court, the accused persons do not have any business to enter into the possession and enjoyment of the property of the complainant.
Accepting the contention of the petitioners regarding accused 3 and 4 the court said: “Of course, Section 3 of the SC & ST Act, will not attract against accused Nos.3 and 4 who are also the persons belonging to the same community. However, the remaining offences under Sections 447, 341, 504 and 506 read with 149 of IPC may be attracted against accused Nos.3 and 4.”
The court said the main accused is not the member of the SC & ST. "Therefore Section 3 of the SC & ST Act, would be attracted against the accused Nos.1, 2 and 5 (the accused No.2 and 5 not before this court). Other IPC offences will attract against accused Nos.3 and 4, such being the case, the special Court is required to try all the offences both IPC and Special Act, as one joint trial."
Referring to the subsection (1) and (3) of 220 of Cr.P.C, the court said: “The trial court can frame the charges, in respect of offences in respect of IPC as well as Special Act against the said accused persons but the trial must be a joint trial.”
The court said the petition is devoid of merits and liable to be dismissed.
Case Title: Padmanabha N S & others v. State of Karnataka & ANR
Case no: WRIT PETITION NO.20228 OF 2021
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (kar) 34
Date of Order: 17TH DAY OF JANUARY, 2023
Appearance: Advocate Prasanna Kumar P for petitioners.
HCGP Rohit B J for R1.
Advocate H. Pavanachandra Shetty for R2