Simply Filing False Complaint Not Punishable Under SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Says Kerala HC [Read Order]
‘Just because there is such a complaint, the person who made the complaint cannot be prosecuted under the SC/ST Act.’
The Kerala High Court in Njanadas v State of Kerala has held that simply filing a false complaint against a member of Scheduled Caste, before any authority, is not punishable under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
A complaint under Sections 3(1) (viii) & (ix) of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, (prior to the amendment of 2016), and under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, was lodged by a lawyer alleging that the accused made a false complaint against him before the Bar Council.
Justice P Ubaid, perusing the complaint, observed that there is absolutely nothing in the said complaint to show that such a complaint was filed before the Bar Council with the object of harassing or abusing or humiliating him as a member of a scheduled caste.
“If any person gives any false information or frivolous information to any public servant with the object of such public servant using his lawful powers to the injury or annoyance of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, it is punishable under clause (ix) of Section 3 (1) of the SC/ST Act (as it stood before the amendment). If a person institutes any false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings, against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, it is punishable under clause (viii). To attract the said clause, the false or malicious or vexatious proceeding or allegation must have been made as part of a criminal or other legal proceeding. Filing a complaint for action before the Bar Council will not come under clause (viii), because an enquiry by the Bar Council cannot be said to be a criminal or other legal proceeding,” the court said.
The court further said: “Simply filing a false complaint against a member of Scheduled Caste, before any authority, is not punishable under the SC/ST Act. For a prosecution under the SC/ST Act on such allegation, the said complaint must have been filed with the object of harassing or abusing or humiliating or annoying or injuring (legally) a member of a Schedule Caste or Scheduled Tribe, on the ground that he/she belongs to such a Caste or Tribe. It appears that this essential aspect was not considered by the trial court while taking cognizance on the complaint.”
The court noted that only allegation is that the accused has filed a false complaint against him before the Bar Council. Let him appear before the Bar Council and defend the complaint. Just because there is such a complaint, the person who made the complaint cannot be prosecuted under the SC/ST Act, the court said.
The court also said the complaint would not attract Section 500 IPC since there must be something defamatory in the complaint in order to attract the said provision.Read the Order Here