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SC/ST Act Misuse- Don't Register FIR At 3rd Party's Instance Sans Opinion Of District Attorney (Legal): P&H HC Directs Punjab DGP

Sparsh Upadhyay
19 Oct 2021 6:17 AM GMT
SC/ST Act Misuse- Dont Register FIR At 3rd Partys Instance Sans Opinion Of District Attorney (Legal): P&H HC Directs Punjab DGP
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently directed the Director-General of Police, Punjab to not register FIR under the SC&ST Act at the instance of a third party unless an opinion is sought from the District Attorney (Legal) that the complainant falls within the definition of the victim as per the SC&ST Act.The Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan made the obtaining of...

The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently directed the Director-General of Police, Punjab to not register FIR under the SC&ST Act at the instance of a third party unless an opinion is sought from the District Attorney (Legal) that the complainant falls within the definition of the victim as per the SC&ST Act.

The Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan made the obtaining of legal opinion mandatory while observing that so-called social activists are misusing the provisions of the SC&ST Act.

The facts in brief

The Court was hearing a bail plea filed by a couple, booked under Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for allegedly using some derogatory words against the community/caste (SC/ST Caste) of their daughter in law during some private conversation.

Importantly, the alleged incident took place before the girl had married the son of the petitioners.

The Counsel for the petitioners submitted that much prior to the performance of the marriage in 2021, the petitioners had disowned their own son by issuing a notice in the newspaper in 2016 as he used to maltreat them and wanted to oust them from their house.

It was further submitted that in a ploy to oust them from the house, the son had uploaded the alleged audio recording on his social media profile, and three persons, claiming to be social activists in Jalandhar, got the FIR registered.

In this backdrop, it was lastly submitted that none of the informants would fall under the definition of 'Victim' as per Section 2(1)(ec) of the SC&ST Act, which refers to a victim as an "individual" who has suffered or experienced physical, mental, psychological, emotional or monetary harm to his property, which includes his relatives, legal guardian, and legal heirs.

Importantly,  both, the state counsel and the counsel of the complainant accepted the fact that neither the girl, against whom the alleged derogatory words were uses, gave any complaint in the instant case, nor the three complainants, in any manner, are related to her.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court noted there is an ongoing property dispute between the petitioners and their son, who has been disowned by them in the year 2016 and now on account of the fact that he has married one Ramanpreet Kaur, the present FIR was registered by 03 persons who are not "victims" as per Section 2(1)(ec) of the SC&ST Act.

Lastly, observing that there is a clear misuse of the process of law by invoking provisions of the SC&ST Act and taking into account the fact that none of the complainants has any locus standi to register the present FIR, the Court allowed the present plea and granted anticipatory bail to the petitioners/couple.

However, before parting, the Court issued the following direction:

"Considering the fact that so-called social activists are misusing the provisions of SC&ST Act, Director General of Police, Punjab is directed to issue instructions to all the Senior Superintendents of Police in Districts that no FIR under SC&ST Act be registered at the instance of third party, unless an opinion is sought from the District Attorney (Legal) that the complainant falls within the definition of victim as per SC&ST Act."

Case title - Bhagwant Singh Randhawa and another v. State of Punjab

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