jharkhand high court

Jharkhand High Court: In a challenge against conviction under Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (‘SC/ST Act’) with sentence of 2 years of rigorous punishment with fine of Rs 2000, Gautam Kumar Choudhary, J. explained that a free fight, as happened in the instant case, could not by any stretch of imagination be said to have been with intent to humiliate the informant by caste name.

It was alleged that on 11-01-2008, the informant was standing at the door of his house when the appellants came in a drunken state and abused him by calling his caste name and also assaulted him. The informant entered his house to save his life and the two appellants started pelting stones. All this allegedly happened since the informant, as stated, had been making excessive charges for pumping sets hired for irrigation purposes.

Based on the information received, a case was registered and chargesheet was prepared under Sections 341, 323, 448, 504, 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Section 3(1)(x) of SC/ST Act against both the appellants.

One of the appellants stated to be the victim of assault by the informant, and that he had also managed to send the informant jail, whose documentary evidence for previous litigations were marked as exhibits in the instant matter.

The instant conviction was assailed on the ground that it was the informant who assaulted the appellants for which a case was lodged with regard to the incident that took place on the same day under Sections 341, 323, 307, 504 of IPC. The appellant was allegedly assaulted by an iron rod, and the instant case was a counter to the said matter by invoking special provision under SC/ST Act.

Considering the arguments advanced and the evidence, the Court said that it was apparent that the incidence took place on 11-01-2008 for which the case and counter case were lodged. It also came on evidence that the appellant was also injured in the said incidence. It further observed through material on record that the immediate genesis of evidence was not any dispute between the appellants and informant but a dispute between the informant and another person, and that the number of families of informant’s caste was in majority as compared to almost 10% of the families of the appellant’s caste.

The Court explained that in order to make out a case under Section 3 (1)(x) of SC/ST Act, victim should have intentionally insulted or intimidated with the intent to humiliate a member of SC/ST in any place within public view, and that free fight which took place in the instant matter could not by any stretch of imagination be said to have been with intent to humiliate the informant by caste name. The Court followed the decision in Hitesh Verma v. State of Uttarakhand, (2020) 10 SCC 710 to set aside the judgment of conviction and order of sentence under Section 3(1)(x) of SC/ST Act against the appellants. However, the Court confirmed the conviction under Section 323 of IPC and further directed the release of appellants on admonition for offence under Section 323 in view of Section 3 of the Probation of Offenders Act.

[Baijnath Singh v. State of Jharkhand, 2024 SCC OnLine Jhar 215, Order dated 15-02-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Appellants: Advocate Indu Shekhar Gupta

For State: APP Fahad Allam

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