The Karnataka High Court has held that a person, whose one parent belongs to the scheduled caste community and another parent to forward caste, will have to in his complaint under the Schedule Caste & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989, specifically plead that he belongs to the schedule caste.
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna said, "Though the mother does not lose the status of Scheduled Caste after marriage, the status of the son to complain that he is a Scheduled Caste and accused are amenable for punishment under the Act, is not axiomatic. The whole hog of pleadings in the complaint should be made while registering one such complaint by a child whose parents are both Scheduled Caste and forward caste."
Accordingly, the bench allowed the petition filed by Bhimappa Jantakal @ Bhimanna and others seeking to quash the proceedings initiated against them by Ramesh Gavisiddappa Ginageri under sections 323, 505, 506 r/w Section 34 of IPC and Section 3(1) (10) of SC/ ST Act.
The bench observed, "The complaint does not contain any fact about anything whatsoever, with regard to the complainant belonging to the Scheduled Caste. It is bald and vague."
The respondent, Ramesh Gavisiddappa Ginageri, had registered a complaint against the petitioners herein alleging that they abused him by taking the name of the caste viz. Scheduled Caste and also indulged in assaulting and threatening him. Accordingly, a FIR was registered and after investigation, charge sheet was filed.
The petitioners herein filed a discharge application before the Sessions Judge under Section 227 of CrPC, which cae to be dismissed on the ground that there was prima facie material against the petitioners to continue the trial.
Advocate Neelendra D.Gunde for the petitioners said the complainant does not belong to Scheduled Caste. He belongs to Vishwakarma caste which is not a Scheduled Caste. The basis for this contention is that the mother of the complainant did belong to Scheduled Caste and married to the father of the complainant who belonged to forward caste and as such he loses the status of belonging to 'Scheduled Caste'.
Further, the incident did not take place in a public view at all, as the parties to a particular civil dispute were negotiating or mediating the dispute between them. No other person is involved in the talks. Moreover, the wound certificate is produced which does not show any external injuries and therefore, neither the case under the Act nor assault under Section 323 of the IPC and intimidation under Section 506 of the IPC is present in the case at hand.
Advocate B.C Jnanayyaswami, for the complainant argued that since the mother belongs to Scheduled Caste, the respondent-son also belongs to Scheduled Caste. Therefore, there is no warrant of interference insofar as the case under the Act is concerned. Assault or otherwise is a matter of trial and this Court should not interfere at this juncture.
Advocate Ramesh Chigari, for the prosecution submitted that it is a matter of trial for the petitioners to come out clean.
Firstly, the Court placed reliance on the Full Bench judgement of the Bombay High Court in the case of Rajendra Shrivastava v. State Of Maharashtra, (2010) 2 Mh.L.J. 198, wherein it was held that a woman who is born in a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe on marriage with a person belonging to forward caste, is not automatically transplanted into the caste of the husband by virtue of her marriage and she cannot belong to the caste of the husband.
It said, "Therefore, the mother of the complainant continued to be a Scheduled Caste woman despite her marriage to a man belonging to Vishwakarma caste."
Secondly, on the issue of whether the complainant who is the son born to the mother belonging to Scheduled Caste and father belonging to Vishwakarma caste, would become a member of the Scheduled Caste qua the Act, the bench placed reliance on Apex court judgment in the case of Rameshbhai Dabhai Naika v. State Of Gujarat, (2012) 3 SCC 400 and the full bench judgment of the Bombay High Court.
As per precedents, the child born to an inter-caste couple with the mother belonging to SC community must plead and prove that he was brought up as a member of Scheduled Caste community.
It said, "On a coalesce of the judgments rendered by various High Courts, the Apex Court holds that it is a question of fact to be proved by the child born to such parents that he still belongs to Scheduled Caste, in view of continuance of deprivations and humilities that he suffers in the society."
Further it said, "The police, after investigation, have filed a charge sheet in the matter showing the complainant to be a Scheduled Caste. The policemen have not gone on patriarchal principle which may not by itself be correct. But, the facts pleaded in the complaint or other documents in the investigation should demonstrate that the son has suffered the same disabilities that persisted with his mother."
It then held,
"A reading of the complaint, the summary of the charge sheet and the statement of witnesses, all speak about only assault and not anything about determination of caste of the complainant. As a matter of fact, the first petitioner is the brother of the father of the complainant. Unless it is demonstrated from the facts that from the birth till registration of complaint the complainant does belong to Scheduled Caste, in terms of the judgment of the Apex Court, the Act on the face of it cannot be invoked. If the Act cannot be invoked, the complaint by the complainant was not maintainable."
As regards the other provisions invoked under the Indian Penal Code, the bench said, "There is no explanation, whatsoever, as to why the complaint was not immediately registered." Further, it said the intimidation in the backdrop of a civil dispute between the parties cannot be brushed aside, since the complainant and the 1st petitioner do belong to the same family and were in dispute with regard to a property. It cannot be probabilized that other offences under Sections 504 and 506 have even happened.
Following which the court terminated the proceedings against the petitioners.
Case Title: BHIMAPPA JANTAKAL @ BHIMANNA & others v State of Karnataka and ANR
Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION No.101825 OF 2019
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 187
Date of Order: 10TH DAY OF MAY, 2022
Appearance: Advocate NEELENDRA D.GUNDE for petitioners; HCGP RAMESH CHIGARI, FOR R1; Advocate B.C.JNANAYYASWAMI, FOR R2