Allahabad High Court

Allahabad High Court: In a writ petition filed to quash an order passed by the Exclusive Special Court, Pratapgarh, wherein police was directed to lodge an First Information Report (‘FIR’) and investigation as per Sections 156(3) and 190 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, (‘CrPC’) for offences under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (‘SC/ST Act’), the Division bench of Rajan Roy* and Sanjay Kumar Pachori, JJ., reiterated that even in absence of a specific provision, the Exclusive Special Courts and Special Courts established under the SC/ST Act, 1989, can exercise original criminal jurisdiction under CrPC,subject to proviso of Section 14(1) of the Act, and order lodging of FIR.


The petitioner filed the writ petition seeking a three-pronged relief from the Court:

(i) Declaring Section 4(2)(e) of the SC/ST Act, 1989 and Rule 7(2) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 (‘SC/ST Rules, 1995’), ultra-vires to Part III of the Constitution as they necessarily direct filing of ‘charge sheet’ instead of a ‘police report’.

(ii) Quashing of order for lodging of FIR and investigation proceedings passed by Exclusive Special Court.

(iii) Direction for deletion of Sections 376-D and 506 of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) from FIR lodged under the aforementioned provisions, as well as, 3(2)(v), 3(2)(va) of the SC/ST Act.

Issues and Analysis

(i) Whether filing of a charge-sheet is mandatory under Section 4(2)(e) of SC/ST Act, 1989 and Rule 7(2) of SC/ST Rules, 1995, even when an FIR is lodged, and no offence is made out after investigation?

The Court rejected the first relief and held that the aforesaid provisions do not necessarily mandate the Investigating Officer (‘IO’) to file a charge-sheet in every case where an FIR has been lodged alleging commission of offence under the SC/ST Act, 1989. However, it enjoins upon such IO to file such charge-sheet where, based on evidence collected during investigation, the offence is made out.

The Court said that statutory provisions cannot be read, understood and applied in an unreasonable manner so as to lead to absurdity or violation of fundamental right of a citizen.

(ii) Whether the Exclusive Special Courts established under the SC/ST Act are empowered to take cognizance i.e. order lodging of FIR and investigation under the SC/ST Act, 1989 and CrPC, 1973?

The Court noted that procedure for pre-trial proceedings is prescribed in Cr.PC., 1973 and referred to Section 4, 5 of the same, wherein provisions for investigation and pre-trial are stated. Additionally, the Court noted that certain provisions of CrPC., 1973 have been specifically excluded from their application to the proceedings under the SC/ST Act, 1989, namely, Section 18 pertaining to exclusion of anticipatory bail under Section 438 of Cr.PC., 1973.

The Court said that non-exclusion of a provision of Cr. PC, 1973 would amount to its application as it was the general law for criminal procedure. Furthermore, as per Section 20 of the SC/ST Act titled “Act to override other laws”, the Court noted that subject to any inconsistency between the SC/ST Act, 1989 and Cr PC, 1973, the latter would apply unless it has been otherwise provided by the former.

The Court said that there is nothing inconsistent in the SC/ST Act or the SC/ST Rules, 1995 vis-a-vis the provision of Section 156(4) of Cr.PC., 1973.

The Court said that to say that Exclusive/Special Courts can take cognizance of dereliction of duty under Section 4 of the SC/ST Act, 1989 and also direct penal proceedings, but cannot order lodging of FIR and investigation. appears unreasonable and incongruous to the object of the Act.

The Court relied on Naresh Kumar Valmiki v. State of U.P.., Application under Section 482 No. 14443 of 2022, wherein it was held that Exclusive Special Court or Special Court under the SC/ST Act, 1989 can treat an application under Section 156(3) of Cr. P.C., 1973 as a complaint and proceed with it accordingly.

Thus, the Court held that the word ‘Magistrate’ under Section 156(3) of CrPC, 1973 does not mean , that Exclusive/Special Court which is a Court of Sessions, will not exercise power under the said provision, meaning, in the absence of any specific exclusion, the provision will apply mutatis mutandis.

Thus, the order passed by the Special Court is not without jurisdiction

(iii) Whether an FIR can be lodged for the same offences under both SC/ST Act, 1989 and IPC, 1860?

The Court found that offences under the SC/ST Act, 1989 are called as ‘atrocity’ under Section 2(a), punishable under Section 3.

Further, the Court referred to Section 3(2)(v), which provides that “whoever not being a member of the SC or ST commits any offence under IPC, 1860 punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more against person or property, knowing that person is a member of the SC or ST, or such property belongs to such member, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine”.

The Court said the offence of gang-rape i.e. Section 376-D under IPC, 1860 prescribes a punishment for imprisonment of not less than 12 years, qualifying the criteria of an offence under Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act, 1989. Moreover, the offence of criminal intimidation i.e. Section 506 under IPC, 1860 is referable to Schedule read with Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, 1989.

Therefore both these offences are amenable to jurisdiction of the Exclusive/Special Courts under the said Act.

Lastly, the Court referred to Section 3(2)(va) of the SC/ST Act, 1860, wherein punishment of an offence specified in the Schedule to the Act is mentioned, subject to contingencies. The Court noted that punishment shall be as specified in IPC, 1860 for such offences and shall also be liable to fine.

Therefore, the Court refused to grant the deletion of aforesaid provisions of IPC, 1860 from the FIR and said it would be incorrect to say that the petitioner would be penalised for the same offence under two provisions.

[Gyanendra Maurya v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine All 46, decided on 02.02.2023]

*Judgment by: Justice Rajan Roy.

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner- Advocate Gyanendra Singh;

For Respondent- Assistant Solicitor General of India.

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