Kerala High Court: In an appeal filed under Section 14-A of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, (‘SC/ST Act’) against the order passed by the Special Judge disallowing pre-arrest bail, A. Badharudeen, J. said that the case advanced by the complainant is prima facie doubtful. However, investigation can go on in a fair manner to unearth the truth of the allegations. Thus, it set aside the impugned order and granted pre-arrest bail to the accused subject to certain conditions.
In the case at hand, the complainant went to the bank for some work, where the accused/appellant not belonging to the Scheduled Castes (‘SC’) or the Scheduled Tribes (‘ST’) community and an employee of the bank, called the caste name of the complainant, who belongs to the SC community, and thereby abused him by calling his caste name within the public view. Thus, the prosecution alleges the commission of offence under Section 3(1)(s) of the SC/ST Act by the accused.
The Court before analysing the question as to whether, a prima facie case is made out in this matter, addressed the tendency of false implication of innocent persons, who do not belong to SC/ ST community, by misusing the provisions of the SC/ST Act.
The Court took note of Prathvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 727, wherein it was held that even after incorporation of Section18A of the SC/ST Act, in cases where there is no prima facie case, grant of anticipatory bail is not specifically barred.
The Court said that atrocities against SC/ST community was intended to be curtailed by the stringent provisions of SC/ST Act. Therefore, when genuine complaint at the instance of the SC/ST members shall be viewed seriously, and appropriate legal action should be taken, to attend the grievances of the complaint. However, the Courts have a duty to rule out the possibilities of false implication of innocent persons as accused, with a view to achieve ulterior motives of the complaints, with threat of arrest and detention of the accused in custody, because of the stringent provisions in the SC/ST Act in the matter of grant of anticipatory bail.
Further, it was said that it is the need of the hour to segregate the grain from the chaff by analysing the genesis of the case, the antecedents prior to registration of the crime, with reference to existence of animosity between the complainant and the accused,vis-a-vis previous disputes etc. while considering the question of prima facie case, when dealing with plea for pre-arrest bail.
[X v. State of Kerala, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 6596, decided on 9-12-22]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Appellant/Accused: Advocate S. Rajeev;
Advocate V. Vinay;
Advocate M.S. Aneer;
Advocate Prerith Philip Joseph;
Advocate Sarath K.P.;
Advocate Anilkumar C.R.;
For Respondents: Advocate R. Rohith;
Advocate Harishma P. Thampi;
Public Prosecutor G.Sudheer.
*Apoorva Goel, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.