P&H HC | No offence constituted under SC/ST Act where abusive language in the name of caste used over phone call: Criminal proceedings against accused quashed

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Harnaresh Singh Gill, J.,quashed the criminal proceedings against the appellant accused of using abusive language against the complainant over a phone call in the name of his caste.

Petitions were filed against the order passed by Additional Sessions Judge (Exclusive Court for Heinous Crime against Women), Kurukshetra wherein it was observed that prima facie offence punishable under Section 506 read with Section 34 Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 (i) (r), 3 (i) (s) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was made out.

Respondent alleged that petitioners had used abusive language against him on his mobile phone in the name of his caste and also gave threat to kill him.

Complainant alleged that Sandeep Kumar under the influence of Pardeep Kumar said ‘you sister fucker chamaar how dare you take possession from us and fill the firni with soil, we will kill you’. 

Petitioners counsel submitted that allegations made against the petitioners do not fall within the provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 as the telephonic call is not in a public view. Hence, the ingredients of offence under the SC/ST Act and Section506/34 IPC are not made out.

Allegations in the present matter were with regard to the usage of caste based remarks over a mobile phone call to the informant, or a member of Scheduled Castes, of which there are no records.

Decision

To constitute the offence under the Act, it must be alleged that the accused intentionally insulted or intimidated with intention to humiliate a member of Scheduled Caste or Schedule Tribe in any public place within public view.

In Court’s opinion with regard to the present matter, once it’s admitted that the alleged conversation over the mobile phone was not in a public gaze nor witnessed by any third party, the alleged use of caste words cannot be said to have been committed within the public view.

Court added to its observation that,

Merely uttering such wrong words in the absence of any public view does not show any intention or mens rea to humiliate the complainant who besides being Sarpanch, belongs to Scheduled Caste community.

Basic ingredients of the offence in the FIR are that there must be intentional insult, secondly the insult must be done in a public place within public view, which is not in the present case.

Thus, the essential ingredients which must be fulfilled, are not found in the present case.

Since no offence under Section 3 of the SC & ST Act is found to be made out, the offence under Section 506 IPC read with Section 34 IPC, which stemmed out of the alleged offence under Section 3 of the SC and ST Act, is also not made out. [Pardeep Kumar v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 671 , decided on 14-05-2020]

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