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Supreme Court Directs Ex-Karnataka MLC To Surrender Before the Trial Court And Seek Regular Bail In SC/ST Act Case

Sohini Chowdhury
6 Sep 2022 6:48 AM GMT
Supreme Court Directs Ex-Karnataka MLC To Surrender Before the Trial Court And Seek Regular Bail In SC/ST Act Case
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The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed ex-Karnataka Member of Legislative Council (MLC), Shrikanth to surrender before the Trial Court within two weeks in connection with a criminal case, inter alia, registered for offences punishable under Section 3(1)(r) and Section 3(1)(s) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Considering the fact that the charge...

The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed ex-Karnataka Member of Legislative Council (MLC), Shrikanth to surrender before the Trial Court within two weeks in connection with a criminal case, inter alia, registered for offences punishable under Section 3(1)(r) and Section 3(1)(s) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Considering the fact that the charge sheet has already been filed, a Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli noted that custodial investigation would no longer be required. In this regard it considered the parameters set out by the Apex Court in Satendra Kumar Antil v. CBI. The Bench asked the Trial Court to consider the application seeking regular bail on the same day it is filed.

"...we order and direct that the petition will surrender before the competent court and apply for regular bail within a period of 2 weeks from the date of this order. The application for grant of regular bail shall be considered on the same day it is filed."

Senior Advocate Mr. Devdutt Kamat informed the bench that the charge sheet has been filed in the matter. Referring to the complaint he argued that it only discloses that the accused had scolded the complaints and remarked that he would throw them out of the village. It was submitted that if there is an insinuation regarding caste in public view, only then it would attract Section 3(1)(r) and Section (1)(s) of the SC/ST Act. Merely, an insult would not invoke the said provisions, which he averred is a settled position. He urged that no prima facie case was made out against the accused and the charge sheet is a testament to the same. Mr. Kamat also clarified that the usage of the alleged slur on the caste of the complainant has been denied by the accused throughout the proceedings. He stated that these allegations have been 'watered down in the charge sheet.

Justice Chandrachud noted that abuse was directed towards a woman for marrying a man belonging to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community. He indicated that considering the same it might not be correct to say that there was no intention. He suggested that Mr. Kamat's client can surrender and seek regular bail.

Justice Chandrachud reminded Mr. Kamat that he was referring to an English translation which did not capture the essence of the remark made by the MLC in Kannada -

"This is a sophisticated English rendition of what was said in Kannada"

The Counsel for the complainant argued that though the custodial investigation is over the bar to anticipatory bail under Section 18 of the SC/ST Act would still apply.

Mr. Kamat referred to the judgment of the Apex Court in Satendra Kumar Antil v. CBI, which laid its own guidelines regarding the course to be followed for bail when the charge sheet has already been filed. Relying on the same he argued that if the accused cooperated during the investigation then bail application may be decided without taking them in physical custody. He beseeched the Bench to ask the Trial Court to decide his bail application without subjecting him to physical custody as the charge sheet has already been submitted.

A criminal case was registered against Shrikanth on 12.07.2019, for offence punishable under Section 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Section 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The former MLC was alleged to have uttered words derogatory to a particular community at a police station. He had moved a petition seeking quashing of the complaint before the Karnataka High Court. It was dismissed by an order dated 28.10.2021. Thereafter the Special Leave Petition was dismissed by the Apex Court on 04.02.2022. Shrikanth had applied for anticipatory bail, but his application was dismissed by the Trial Court. In appeal, the High Court declined to grant him Anticipatory bail by order dated 15.03.2022. On 21.04.2022 the Apex Court had issued notice and granted interim protection from arrest. Eventually, the investigation was completed and a charge sheet was submitted on 03.05.2022.

[Case Title: Shrikanth v. State of Karnataka And Ors. SLP(Crl) No. 3290/2022]

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