SC To Look Into Procedural Safeguards Against Abuse Of SC/ST Act [Read Order]

Whether any unilateral allegation of mala fide can be ground to prosecute officers who dealt with the matter in official capacity and if such allegation is falsely made what is protection available against such abuse, the bench observed.

The Supreme Court will look into the question whether there can be procedural safeguards so that provisions of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 are not abused for extraneous considerations.

The court made this observation in Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan vs The State of Maharashtra while considering a special leave petition of one Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan against the Bombay High Court judgment refusing to quash the FIR lodged against him for offences alleged under the Act.

The bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit said the question raised in the appeal is this: “Whether any unilateral allegation of mala fide can be ground to prosecute officers who dealt with the matter in official capacity and if such allegation is falsely made what is protection available against such abuse.”

The court further observed: “If the allegation is to be acted upon, the proceedings can result in arrest or prosecution of the person and have serious consequences on his right to liberty even on a false complaint which may not be intended by law meant for protection of a bona fide victim.”

The court also observed that it has to examine whether the above said procedure will be just and fair procedure under Article 21 of the Constitution of India or there can be procedural safeguards so that provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 are not abused for extraneous considerations.

The court stayed the high court judgment, issued notice and posted the matter on January 10.

The high court view

The division bench of high court, addressing this question, observed the enforcement or implementation of the Atrocities Act cannot be thwarted merely because there is a possibility of the law being abused. “That way, every law or every provision is capable of being abused. … mere giving of information to any public servant, but which is not false or frivolous or even if it is so, the giving of such information does not result in the consequences enumerated in Section 3(1)(ix), then, no offence and punishable under Section 3(1)(ix) is committed,” the bench had observed.

Read the Order and Judgment Here