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Karnataka HC Quashes Criminal Proceedings Against 68-Year-Old Woman Charged Under SC/ST Act

Mustafa Plumber
10 May 2022 2:24 PM GMT
Karnataka HC Quashes Criminal Proceedings Against 68-year-old Woman Charged Under SC/ST Act
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Observing that "She had no criminal intention in the initial stage while obtaining the (caste) certificate and seeking reservation and got (job) appointment, but she bonafidely believed that she will get the caste of her husband in view of marrying the person who belongs to member of SC/ST," the Karnataka High Court recently quashed the criminal proceedings pending against a 68-year-old woman (Brahmin by birth), who was charged under provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

A single judge bench of Justice K Natarajan allowed the petition filed by Savithri and quashed the proceeding pending against her under Section 198, 196, 199 and 420 of IPC and Sections 3 (1) (ix) of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 hereinafter referred as SC/ST (POA) Act.

Case Details:

The case of the prosecution is that the respondent No.2 filed a complaint to the police on 02.04.2018, alleging that the petitioner who is said to belong to the Brahmin community by birth and during the year 1974 had married one A.M.Suryanarayana Nayak, who is said to be belonging to the 'Nayak' caste which was classified under Scheduled Tribe.

Subsequent to the marriage of the petitioner she was residing with her husband and followed her husband's caste. Subsequently, she applied for a caste certificate, claiming her caste as Scheduled Tribe. Accordingly, she obtained the caste certificate and also secured a job with the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC), and was appointed as Second Division Clerk and posted at Commercial Tax Department.

Subsequently, the Caste Verification Committee verified the certificate and annulled the certificate stating that she cannot claim her husband's caste as she is Brahmin by birth as per her SSLC certificate. Thereafter she was dismissed from service on 28.4.2012, hence the complaint came to be registered against her, which is under challenge.

Petitioners submissions:

It was contended that though the petitioner was a Brahmin by birth, by marrying a 'Nayak' community person, she followed the husband's caste, and at that time the judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in N.E.Horo Vs Jahanara Jaipal Sing reported in (1972) 1 SCC 771, was in force, and in the judgment, it was clearly held that after marrying the member of the SC/ST the girl also becomes the caste of her husband.

Later, the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court which was declared only in the year 1996 in the case of ValsammaPaul's Vs Cochin University reported in (1996) 3 SCC 545 and therefore she was terminated from the service and also contended that she has no criminal intent to cheat the authorities, but she bonafidely believed herself the caste of her husband and secured the job.

Respondents Submissions:

Counsel for the respondent Directorate of Civil Rights Enforcement (DCRE) had objected the petition and contended that the Division Bench of this Court in the case of G.S.Vasantha Lakshmi Vs State of Karnataka has categorically held that the Brahmin lady will not get the right of caste of her husband merely by marrying the member of the SC/ST and Supreme Court has categorically held in Valsamma Paul's case that the wife will not get the status of the husband, merely by marrying an SC/ST person and that no reservation is available under Article 16 (4) of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the matter is required for adjudication.

Court findings:

The bench noted that the Hon'ble Supreme Court held in Valsamma Paul's case that the reservation for a woman under Section 15 (4) of the Constitution of India is not available if the non-member of the SC/ST person marries a member of the SC/ST community. In the judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court in. N.E.Horo Vs Jahanara Jaipal Sing reported in (1972) 1 SCC 771 dated 02.02.1972 the Hon'ble Apex Court had held that the person who is not belonging to a tribal community by birth and by virtue of marriage, marrying the person from the Munda Tribe Community after due observance of all formalities and after obtaining approval of elders of the tribes, she becomes the husband's domicile.

It observed "Until the pronouncement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in (a) Kum.Madhuri Pati & Anr Vs.Addl.Commissioner, Tribal Development & Ors 1994 (6) SCC 241, (b) Valsamma pauls case and (c) Dayaram Vs Sudhir Batham and Others reported in 2012 (1) SCC 333 the judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court in N.E.Horo's case prevailed. Subsequently, there were various judgment and pronouncements of the Hon'ble Supreme Court changed the scenario in the case that a non SC/ST member by marrying the member of the SC/ST member will continue as their birth caste but not as husband's caste."

The court opined "The petitioner though by birth was a Brahmin, but she had married the 'Nayak' community person and is having children and she bonafide believed and applied for the caste certificate and obtained the same from the authority and also obtained the reservation on the basis of her husband's caste. At that time the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in N.E.Horo's case was in force."

It added "Subsequent to the development and in view of the Madhuri Patil's case and others cases and other pronouncement of Hon'ble Supreme Court, because of the change of law, the non-member of the SC/ST people even if married the member of the SC/ST they cannot claim the right of reservation. Therefore, it cannot be presumed that in 1974 when she married to the Nayak community person she was not having any criminal intention to secure the job and cheat any person belonging to SC/ST and even otherwise the Special Act."

Further it said "The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1988, came into force only in 1989. Therefore, if any offence committed prior to the commencement of the penal Act, the person cannot be punished for the non existing law."

Following which it allowed the petition and quashed the proceedings.

Case Title: Savithri And State of Karnataka

Case No: Criminal Petition 8857/2018

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 155

Date of Order: April 19, 2022

Appearance: Advocate Bharath Kumar V for petitioner, Advocate Vinayaka V S for R1, Advocate Jagadish for R2

Click here to read/download the judgement


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