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Madras HC Refuses To Cancel DMK Leader R. S. Bharathi's Interim Bail In Case Under SC/ST Act For Disrespectful Remarks Against Lower Caste Elevations To HC [Read Order]

MEHAL JAIN
1 Jun 2020 8:42 AM GMT
Madras HC Refuses To Cancel DMK Leader R. S. Bharathis Interim Bail In Case Under SC/ST Act For Disrespectful Remarks Against Lower Caste Elevations To HC [Read Order]
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The Madras High Court on Saturday refused to cancel the May 23 grant of interim bail by the Principal Sessions Court to DMK organising secretary R.S. Bharathi, also a Rajya Sabha member, who was arrested under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989.

Bharathi, a well known leader, made disrespectful remarks on members of oppressed class stating that the appointment of Justice A.Varadharajan, who belongs to lower caste and other 7 or 8 appointments of lower caste judges to High Court were alms rendered by former Chief Minister before the gathering of more than 100 people.

Justice M. Nirmal Kumar rejected the request of the Central Crime Branch of the state police to cancel the interim bail granted till May 31 considering that the family members of the accused are doctors and accordingly, if he is lodged in prison, there was risk of making the other inmates susceptible to COVID.

The judge also allowed the plea of the MP in directing the Principal Sessions Court to consider grant of regular bail to him right on the day when he chooses to surrender before the court.

The Single Bench expressed that the speech disrespects Justice A.Varadharajan who is held in high esteem by members of the schedule caste and scheduled tribe who is an inspiration to thousand of lawyers belonging to the lower caste. This speech was made by the petitioner to bring publicity for his leader. According to the accused, the members belonging to the oppressed class are being appointed to such a position not because of their merit but because of charity made by the political leaders and thus insulted and humiliated the S.C./S.T. People. This meeting was telecasted in most of the Television and online channels. The statements are deeply disrespectful which attracts the offences under Section 3 (u) and 3(v) of the atrocities Act, 1989.

On complaint, the case came to be registered on13.03.2020 at 6.00 P.M. Thereafter due to the Covid 19 pandemic no substantial investigation was conducted despite time limit prescribed under S.C./S.T. Rules. Hence, the de-facto complainant moved the High Court, which by order dated 12.05.2020 directed the Investigating officer to complete the investigation and file charge sheet within a period of thirty days from the date of the order.
In view of the order passed, the investigating officer who was constrained of time to complete the investigation expeditiously, as he was involved in the works relating to Covid 19, the Commissioner of Police, Greater Chennai Police transferred the investigation to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Central Crime Branch, Greater Chennai Police. The latter on 22.05.2020 at about 18:30 hours took up the case for further investigation. The investigating officer perused case diary and documents collected in the case examined the previous Investigating Officer found prima facie commission of offence by the accused and in the course of investigation he intended to examine the accused at his residence, proceeded to examine the accused. Since, the accused did not co-operate, the investigating officer arrested the accused on 23.05.2020 at about 5.40 hours at his residence for the purpose of investigation, for the reason, if the petitioner/accused is not arrested, he would commit offence further and the members of the oppressed community resorting to more number of agitations leading to law and order problem cannot be ruled out.
The accused was brought to the Central Crime Branch on 23.05.2020. Thereafter, the petitioner was produced for remand before the Principal Sessions Judge/Special Judge who by order dated 23.05.2020 had granted interim bail to the petitioner till 31.05.2020 on the petitioner executing a personal bond for Rs. 10,000/- and directed the petitioner to surrender before the Court on 01.06.2020.
Before the arrest, the petitioner on 18.05.2020 had moved the High Court in a plea that came to be listed on 21.05.2020. The case, thereafter was adjourned to 27.05.2020 for serving notice to the de-facto complainant and for filing counter. Then to serve notice on the de-facto complainant as per Section 15-A(5) of the Act and for the State Public Prosecutor to file his counter the case was adjourned to 27.05.2020. In the meanwhile the petitioner was arrested on 23.05.2020. Thereafter the petitioner/accused was produced for remand before the Principal Sessions Judge/Special Judge at his residence since the said date viz., 23.05.2020 happens to be a Saturday/holiday. The Principal Sessions Judge/Special Judge after hearing arguments from both sides, granted interim bail as stated above.
 It is this order which came to be challenged before the High Court.
Observations of the Court
"The learned Judge after hearing either side considering the overall facts and circumstances of the case granted interim bail to the petitioner. The reasons assigned by the learned Judge  are clear and it is not a cryptic order and the order is a reasoned one with necessary particulars", observed the Single Bench.
 The High Court opened that it was considering the direction of the Apex Court in the prevailing situation of COVID 19 and the fact that the son and wife of the accused are doctors and his son is treating patients in Government General Hospital and the accused is in self quarantine, that the lower Court granted interim bail to the petitioner/accused.
 Further, it was of the view that it is only interim bail and non hearing of the defacto complainant would not amount to violation of mandatory provisions of Section 15-A (5) of the Act. The petitioner/accused is to appear before the Sessions Judge on 01.06.2020. The defacto complainant is aware of the same and may make his objections then.
 The Single Judge noted the circular of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment dated 15.03.2018 to the Chief Secretaries to all the State Governments/Union Territory Administration that the authorities empowered to issue Scheduled Caste certificates not to insert the word 'Harijan' in the Scheduled Caste certificate but to mention only the caste to which the person belongs and which has been recognised as Scheduled Caste under the presidential orders.
"Thus the petitioner using the word 'Harijan' is a offence. The restriction in usage of word Harijan is for the purpose of issuance of community certificate the interpretations given by the State Public Prosecutor cannot be accepted", the court held.
 Further, it was observed that under the scheme of the Act, appeals are only to be filed under Section 14-A of the Act. Therefore the order challenged by the State Public Prosecutor under Section 482 Cr.P.C cannot be accepted.
"The High Court possesses the inherent powers to be exercised ex debito justitiae to do the real and substantial justice for the administration of which alone Courts exist. The power has to be exercised to prevent abuse of the process of the Court or to otherwise secure the ends of justice. But this power cannot be resorted to if there is a specific provision in the Act", it reflected.
Moreover, the court expressed that the petitioner is 72 years old, the threat and fear is real, as "the spread of COVID-19 is raising in alarming phase throughout and the prison is no exception"
 "In view of the same, this Court does not find any infirmity or illegality in the order passed by the lower Court", it concluded.
[Read Order]



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