26 May 2023 11:43 AM GMT
Before subjecting an accused to a trial for alleged commission of offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, it is desirable that the caste related utterances are outlined either in the FIR or, atleast, in the chargesheet, said the Supreme Court recently. It opined that the same would enable to ascertain if a case...
Before subjecting an accused to a trial for alleged commission of offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, it is desirable that the caste related utterances are outlined either in the FIR or, atleast, in the chargesheet, said the Supreme Court recently. It opined that the same would enable to ascertain if a case is made out for an offence under the SC/ST Act before taking cognisance of the matter(Ramesh Chandra Vaishya v. State of Uttar Pradesh And Anr).
“Since section 18 of the SC/ST Act bars invocation of the court’s jurisdiction under section 438, Cr.PC and having regard to the overriding effect of the SC/ST Act over other laws, it is desirable that before an accused is subjected to a trial for alleged commission of offence under section 3(1)(x), the utterances made by him in any place within public view are outlined, if not in the F.I.R. (which is not required to be an encyclopaedia of all facts and events), but at least in the charge-sheet (which is prepared based either on statements of witnesses recorded in course of investigation or otherwise) so as to enable the court to ascertain whether the charge sheet makes out a case of an offence under the SC/ST Act having been committed for forming a proper opinion in the conspectus of the situation before it, prior to taking cognisance of the offence.”
A Bench comprising Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Datta expressed the aforementioned view while deciding a Special Leave Petition challenging the order of the Allahabad High Court whereby it had dismissed a application seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against the accused (appellant), who was alleged to have hurled caste abuses towards the complainant and his family members.
The prosecution’s case is that while indulging in an altercation with the compliant, the appellant had hurled caste abuses towards the complainant and his family members. He had also physically assaulted the complainant. Subsequently, an FIR was lodged against the appellant under Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 IPC (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (punishment for offences atrocities). Investigation was conducted in a day and consequently, chargesheet was filed.
The appellant claimed the he also intended to file an FIR with respect to the same incident, as he was badly beaten up by the complainant and his son. But his FIR was not registered. The appellant was challaned and detained under Section 151 (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offence), 107 (security for keeping the peace in other cases) and 116 (inquiry as to truth of information) CrPC. Once he was released on bail, the appellant moved an application under Section 156(3) CrPC (police officer’s power to investigate cognizable offence). Pursuant to the order of the Magistrate an FIR was logged under Sections 323, 325 (punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 392 (punishment for robbery), 452 (house trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 504, 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) IPC against the compliant. The appellant had also instituted a suit seeking permanent injunction against the complainant for his permanent encroached on the appellant’s land.
The appellant approached the Allahabad High Court assailing the chargesheet and seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against him. The High Court had granted interim relief to the appellant directing the investigating agency to not take any coercive action pending the consideration of the application. However, after hearing the matter on merits, the High Court dismissed the appellant’s application under Section 482 CrPC (saving of inherent power of High Court).
Analysis by the Supreme Court
The Court noted that the FIR registered at the instance of the complainant does not disclose the place of occurrence, the members of public present when the caste related abuses were hurled. However, the appellant’s FIR indicates that the incident took place at the house of the appellant. The Court culled out the issues as under -
In order to attract Section 3(1)(x) the utterances ought to be laced with casteist remarks.
In regard to the nature of investigation the Court noted -
“Completion of investigation within a day in a given case could be appreciated but in the present case it has resulted in more disservice than service to the cause of justice. The situation becomes all the more glaring when in course of this proceeding the parties including the first respondent (Investigating Agency) are unable to apprise us the outcome of the second F.I.R.”
While allowing the petition, the Supreme Court observed -
“We record that the High Court misdirected itself in failing to appreciate the challenge to the criminal proceedings including the charge-sheet in the proper perspective and occasioned a grave failure of justice in rejecting such challenge.”
Ramesh Chandra Vaishya v. State of Uttar Pradesh And Anr.| 2023 LiveLaw SC 469 | SLP(Crl) No. 1249/2023| 19th May, 2023| Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Datta
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment