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Insulting Or Abusing SC-ST Person Within Four Walls Of A House Is Not An Offence Under SC-ST Act: Supreme Court [Read Judgment]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
7 Nov 2020 5:24 AM GMT
Insulting Or Abusing SC-ST Person Within Four Walls Of A House Is Not An Offence Under SC-ST Act: Supreme Court [Read Judgment]
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The Supreme Court has held that insult or intimidation of a SC-ST person within the four walls of the building, is not an offence under Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.In this case, the FIR stated that the accused entered illegally in to four walls of the victim's building and started hurling abuses and gave death threats and used...

The Supreme Court has held that insult or intimidation of a SC-ST person within the four walls of the building, is not an offence under Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

In this case, the FIR stated that the accused entered illegally in to four walls of the victim's building and started hurling abuses and gave death threats and used castes' remarks/abuses etc. The bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi was considering an appeal against the High Court judgment which refused to quash the charge sheet under SC-ST Act.

The court noted that the basic ingredients of the offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the Act can be classified as "1) intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe and 2) in any place within public view".  

The court, referring to Swaran Singh & Ors. v. State (2008) 8 SCC 435, observed that if an offence is committed outside the building e.g. in a lawn outside a house, and the lawn can be seen by someone from the road or lane outside the boundary wall, then the lawn would certainly be a place within the public view. However, the court noted, if the remark is made inside a building, but some members of the public are there (not merely relatives or  friends) then it would not be an offence since it is not in the public view.  The bench, therefore, said:

"As per the FIR, the allegations of abusing the informant were within the four walls of her building. It is not the case of the informant that there was any member of the public (not merely relatives or friends) at the time of the incident in the house. Therefore, the basic ingredient that the words were uttered "in any place within public view" is not made out. In the list of witnesses appended to the charge-sheet, certain witnesses are named but it could not be said that those were the persons present within the four walls of the building. The offence is alleged to have taken place within the four walls of the building. Therefore, in view of the judgment of this Court in Swaran Singh, it cannot be said to be a place within public view as none was said to be present within the four walls of the building as per the FIR and/or charge-sheet"

The court also observed that the offence under the Act is not established merely on the fact that the informant is a member of Scheduled Caste unless there is an intention to humiliate a member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe for the reason that the victim belongs to such caste. All insults or intimidations to a person will not be an offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, it said.

Also held in the judgment : [SC-ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act] Mere Insult Of A Person Is Not An Offence Unless It's On Account of Him/Her Belonging To SC-ST: Supreme Court



Case: HITESH VERMA  vs. STATE OF UTTARAKHAND [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 707 OF 2020]
CORAM: Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi

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