Case BriefsHigh Courts

Telangana High Court: P. Naveen Rao, J., discussed and reiterated the scope of The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 extensively.

“As against the procedure envisaged in the Code of Criminal Procedure, where power is vested in the Magistrate, to monitor investigation of a crime under the Act, 1989 and take cognizance of the crime, the power is now vested in the Special Court.”

Illegal Intimacy

First petitioner submitted that second petitioner is her daughter and her marriage was performed in the year 2017. After 4 months of their marriage, the husband of the second petitioner developed illegal intimacy with another woman who is stated to be the daughter of the sixth respondent and were living under one roof.

The husband of petitioner 2 started harassing her. Later in the panchayat held by the elders, there was an understanding that Shivakumar would lead marital life with the second petitioner by leaving the daughter of respondent 6.

Even after the above-held panchayat, the illegal relationship of Shivakumar and daughter of respondent 6 continued.

Based on the above complaint, a crime was registered under Sections 498-A and 497 IPC. Sixth respondent’s daughter gave an assurance in front of the police that she would not interfere in marital life of second petitioner and requested the petitioners to withdraw the case.

Later, even after the settlement, the illegal relationship continued and this time, the respondent filed a complaint alleging that petitioners abused them in filthy language and on caste lines.

Complaint under Section 34 IPC and Sections 3(1)(r)(s), 3 (2) (va) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Petitioners have now alleged that taking advantage of the registration of crime, sixth respondent and his daughter threatened the petitioners and were forcing the second petitioner to give divorce to her husband.

Petitioners contended that the police has not been following the procedure and requires the Court to direct the fourth respondent to follow the Supreme Court decision in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 273.

Scope of Power of Police

On the issue of the scope of power of police to conduct an investigation, the arrest of accused, grant of bail, and the role of Constitutional Courts in such matters was extensively considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335.

Further, the Bench expressed that it is a settled principle of law that once a cognizable crime is reported, police have to register the crime and investigate into the crime. Such an investigation has to be taken up immediately, collect the evidence and then take steps to finalize the investigation and file the final report.

Scope of  The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

The scope of provisions of the Act, 1989 came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra,(2018) 6 SCC 454. The Supreme Court held that merely because a crime is reported under the Act, 1989, it need not be registered automatically and to avoid false implication of an innocent person, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police concerned to find out whether allegations in the complaint made out a case to proceed under the Atrocities Act, and that the person need not be arrested.

In Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761, Supreme Court reviewed the directions issued in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454.

Further, after extensively referring to the view taken by the Supreme Court in Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761, Supreme Court observed in Prithvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 727:

“9. Concerning the provisions contained in Section 18-A, suffice it to observe that with respect to preliminary inquiry for registration of FIR, we have already recalled the general Directions 79.3 and 79.4 issued in Subhash Kashinath case [Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454 : (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) 124]. A preliminary inquiry is permissible only in the circumstances as per the law laid down by a Constitution Bench of this Court in Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P. [Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1 : (2014) 1 SCC (Cri) 524], shall hold good as explained in the order passed by this Court in the review petitions on 1-10-2019 [Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761] and the amended provisions of Section 18-A have to be interpreted accordingly.

10. Section 18-A(i) was inserted owing to the decision of this Court in Subhash Kashinath [Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454 : (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) 124], which made it necessary to obtain the approval of the appointing authority concerning a public servant and the SSP in the case of arrest of accused persons. This Court has also recalled that direction on Review Petition (Crl.) No. 228 of 2018 decided on 1-10-2019 [Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761] . Thus, the provisions which have been made in Section 18-A are rendered of academic use as they were enacted to take care of mandate issued in Subhash Kashinath [Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454 : (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) 124] which no more prevails. The provisions were already in Section 18 of the Act with respect to anticipatory bail.”

Therefore, in light of the above discussion, bench dismissed the petition. [Sattarsetti Nirmala v. State of Telangana, 2021 SCC OnLine TS 167 , decided on 06-01-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of S. Manikumar and Shaji P. Chaly, JJ., while deciding the Constitutional validity of the Kerala State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Act, 2007, dismissed the writ petition making significant observations.

Brief Facts

Aggrieved by the inaction on the part of the respondents in honouring a claim made by the petitioner for reimbursement of travel allowances which he had to incur in connection with the hearings before the State Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Commission at Thiruvananthapuram, instant writ petition for the issuance of mandamus has been filed against the State Government, Kerala. Further, the petitioner seeks to issue a similar relief against the Subordinate Courts so to implement speedy trial provided under Section 14 of the Atrocities Act by taking up the Atrocity cases and related matters immediately after the custody and bail cases. Furthermore, the writ petition seeks to declare the Kerala State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Act, 2007 and the rules framed thereunder as unconstitutional on the ground of inconsistency and repugnancy with the Central Act. 

Issue

  1. Whether the State Government can form rules departing from central rules and thereby, deny rights conferred by the Central Government?
  2. Whether the State Government can disobey the rules framed by the Central Government for the benefit of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and decline to make provisions in the budgets thereby causing hardship to the poor people?
  3. Whether the subordinate courts can violate the law to the disadvantage of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by denying speedy trial though provided in Section 14 of the Act?

Contentions

The counsel for the petitioners made a submission on the following grounds;

  1. That the Central Act and the rules framed thereunder are binding on the State Government and it is, therefore, obligatory for them to act in consonance of the same.
  2. That the rules framed by the State Government do not fall under Rule 11, 12 or 15 of the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, as prescribed by the Central Government.
  3. That the State Government has failed to comply with the directive laid down under Rule 14, which mandates the State to allocate a certain sum in the Annual State budget for the SC/ST community.
  4. That the State is incompetent to make any law or enumerate any rule on the said subject, following which, the Kerala State SC/ST Commission Act, 2007 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 are liable to be declared as unconstitutional. The petitioners further cited, Barai v. Henry, (1983) 1 SCC 177 and Thirumuruga Hirupananda Variar v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1996) 3 SCC 15.
  5. That the District Magistrates and other similar officers callously neglected the duties prescribed for providing facilities and for making payments under the Schedule and the rules.
  6. That the lower courts do not implement speedy trials, as provided under Section 14 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, thereby causing hardship to the victims and witnesses, etc.

The counsel for the respondents submitted as follows;

  1. That the petitioner has filed complaints before the Kerala State SC/ST Commission seeking Travel Allowance(TA)/Dearance Allowance(DA) claims, including hotel bill, room rent, etc. for payment.
  2. That as per the Kerala State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and scheduled tribes Act, 2007 and the rules framed thereunder, there is no provision for paying TA or DA to the victims and witnesses who appear before the Commission, for the purpose of enquiry into the complaints. The Commission has no such fund to consider the claim.
  3. That the Commission is empowered to conduct an enquiry into cases where there are allegations of a miscarriage of justice during investigation and hence, the SC/ST complainants, who register complaints/petition before the State Commission, are not entitled to get TA/DA, when they appear before the Commission under any of the provisions of the Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 2007 and the rules framed thereunder.
  4. Cases under sections 3(1) and 3(2) of Prevention of Atrocities Act are registered in Police Stations and Special Cells are constituted for that purpose. Further, as mentioned in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, the District Magistrate, Sub Divisional Magistrate or other Executive Magistrate is the authority, liable for payment of such allowances to the victims of atrocity/dependent in the matter of investigation and trial.
  5. That even though the Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes has the powers of a civil court, with regard to its function under Section 9, Rule 11 of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, is not applicable to the Commission.
  6. That Four Special Courts for the trial of offences under the SC/ST (POA) Act cases, have been established at Manjeri, Mananthavady (Kalpetta), Kottarakkara (Kollam) and Mannarkkad (Palakkad). The work turn-out in the four Special Courts for the trial of offences under SC/ST(POA) Act cases are being monitored on a monthly basis by the Judges holding the administrative charges of the respective districts and necessary directions and guidelines are being issued for the speedy trial and disposal of those cases.

Observations

The bench made significant observations with respect to State’s competency to legislate in presence of a central law on the same subject, separation of powers and mutual interaction between the three organs in a democratic setup and instances where the Commission is obligated to make reimbursements. It cited several case laws and observations with respect to the above enumerated hereby;

1. Bhim Singh v. Union of India, (2010) 5 SCC 538;

“While observing that the Constitution does not strictly prohibit overlapping of functions as this is inevitable in the modern parliamentary democracy, the Constitution prohibits exercise of functions of another branch which results in wresting away of the regime of constitutional accountability. Only when accountability is preserved, there will be no violation of principle of separation of powers. Constitution not only requires and mandates that there should be right decisions that govern us, but equal care has to be taken that the right decisions are made by the right body and the institution. This is what gives legitimacy, be it legislation, a policy decision or a court adjudication.”

2.  V.K. Naswa v. Home Secretary, Union of India, (2012) 11 SCC 42;

“It is outside the power of judicial review to issue directions to the legislature to enact a law in a particular manner, for the Constitution does not permit the courts to direct and advice the executive in matters of policy. Parliament, as the legislature, exercises this power to enact a law and no outside authority can issue a particular piece of legislation. It is only in exceptional cases where there is a vacuum and non-existing position that the judiciary, in exercise of its constitutional power, steps in and provides a solution till the legislature comes forward to perform its role.”  [Also refer; Manoj Narula v. UOI, (2014) 9 SCC 1 and Supreme Court Employee Welfare Assn. v. UOI, (1989) 4 SCC 187]

 3. Regina (Countryside Alliance) v. Attorney General, (2008) 1 AC 719;

 “…The democratic process is liable to be subverted if, on a question of moral and political judgment, opponents of the Act achieve through the courts what they could not achieve in Parliament.”

4.State of Himachal Pradesh v. Satpal Saini, (2017) 11 SCC 42;

“Reference was made to Supreme Court Employees’ Welfare Association, (1989) 4 SCC 187, that no writ of mandamus can be issued to the legislature to enact a particular legislation nor can such direction be issued to the executive which exercises the powers to make Rules in the nature of subordinate legislation.”

With respect to instances where the State Government is liable to reimburse the expenses incurred by the complainant, the Court highlighted the following points;

  1. Every victim of atrocity or his/her dependent and witnesses shall be paid expense from his place of residence to the place of investigation or trial of offence under the Act.
  2. The District Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate shall make necessary arrangements for providing transport facilities or reimbursement of full payment to the victims of atrocity and witnesses for visiting the investigating officer, Superintendent of Police/Deputy Superintendent of Police, District Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate.
  3. Every woman witness, the victim of atrocity or her dependent being a woman or a minor, a person more than sixty years of age and a person having 40 % or more disability shall be entitled to be accompanied by an attendant of her/his choice. The attendant shall also be paid traveling and maintenance expenses as applicable to the witness or the victim of atrocity when called upon during hearing, investigation and trial of an offence under the Act.
  4. The witness, the victim of atrocity or his/her dependent and the attendant shall be paid daily maintenance for the days he/she is away from the place of his/her residence or stay during investigation, hearing and trial of an offence, at such rates but not less than the minimum wages, as may be fixed by the State Government for the agricultural labourers.
  5. In addition to daily maintenance expenses, the witness, the victim of atrocity (or his/her dependent), and the attendant shall also be paid diet expenses at such rates, as may be fixed by the State Government from time to time.
  6. The payment of traveling allowance, daily allowance, maintenance expenses and reimbursement of transport facilities shall be made immediately or not later than three days by the District Magistrate or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate to the victims, their dependents/attendant and witnesses for the days they visit the investigating officer or in-charge police station or hospital authorities or Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendent of Police or District Magistrate or any other officer concerned or the Special Court.
  7. When an offence has been committed under Section 3 of the Act, the District Magistrate or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate shall reimburse the payment of medicines, special medical consultation, blood transfusion, replacement of essential clothing, meals and fruits provided to the victim of atrocity.

 Decision

While upholding the Constitutional validity of the State Act, the bench observed: “neither the Commission nor the State Government, is obligated to create a specific fund for reimbursement of the expenses, incurred by the complainant/witnesses for their appearance, in relation to inquiry and examination of a complaint by the Commission constituted under Section 3 of the Kerala State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Act, 2007, and such fund is required to be created by the State Government, only in the case of investigation or trial.”

It was further said that, the submissions made by the petitioner are not sustainable and cannot be countenanced, as there is no derogation or inconsistency between the Central and the State Rules. [M.P. Chothy v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4254, decided on 29-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., allowed a bail application and granted bail to the applicant who was accused of committing the offence of sexual assault on a minor victim.

The preliminary question before the High Court was whether the present application was maintainable because according to S.V. Gavan, APP, since the offence alleged was under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, an appeal would be required to be preferred under Section 14-A of the SC/ST Act.

The Court, however, agreed with the judgments other High Courts cited by Abhijeet A. Desai, counsel for the applicant, wherein it has been held that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, being a special enactment and also a subsequent enactment and containing a non obstante clause, the bar created under Section 14-A of the SC/ST Act would not operate.

Then, considering the main plea in the present application, the Court noted that age of the victim was 15 years 4 months and 23 days and that of the applicant was 21 years. The victim was in a friendly relationship with the accused/ On the date of incident, she accompanied the victim to a lodge where they remained for almost 1.5-2 hours. Considering the victim was a minor, the Court noted that any submission as to the consent of the victim is futile.

It was noted that the accused was in custody since 12th November 2019; investigation was complete and chargesheet has been filed. The Court was of the opinion that on merits, there was no prohibition that applicant could not be released on bail. However, to ensure that the victim is kept away from the applicant so she may depose freely, the applicant was directed to give an undertaking that he will not enter into the jurisdiction of Pune City since the victim is a resident of Pune.

As far as the allegations under the SC/ST Act were concerned, except in a statement of the victim recorded under Section 164 CrPC, where she had disclosed that applicant abused her by mentioning her caste, there was no other material to attract the offences under the SC/ST Act. The Court stated that the effect of the statement under Section 164 CrPC and the content therein and its appreciation would be done at the time of trial. It was not the case of the prosecution that the applicant was aware that the victim belongs to scheduled caste and therefore intentionally he assaulted her sexually, being conscious of this fact. Therefore, perusal of the material in the chargesheet did not prima facie attract the provisions contained in the SC/ST Act.

In such view of the matter, the High Court released the applicant on bail, subject to the conditions imposed. [Suraj S. Paithankar v. State of Maharashtra, Bail Application No. 817 of 2020, dated 3-7-2020]    

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: G.K. Ilanthiraiyan, J., allowed a criminal original petition filed by petitioner accused under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The petition was filed for a direction to the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Villupuram to consider petitioner’s bail petition on the same day of his surrender. The petitioner who wanted to surrender and apply for bail in connection with a criminal case registered under the SC/ST Act was represented by C. Prabakaran. While on the other hand, C. Raghavan, Government Advocate appeared for the State.

The High Court while allowing the petition, observed, “In view of the specific bar under Section 18 of SC/ST Act and also taking into consideration of the possibility of misusing the pious intention of the Parliament against innocent persons, there shall be a direction to the Principal District and Sessions Judge to consider the petitioner’s bail application, preferably on the same day of their surrender and pass appropriate orders in accordance with law after affording due opportunity to the victim under Section 15(a) of the SC/ST Act”. The petition was disposed of in the terms above. [Sethu v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 658, dated 04-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: K.K. Sonawane, J., while reversing the judgment passed by Additional Sessions Judge, allowed pre-arrest bail applications of appellants filed under Section 438 CrPC.

The appellants were accused of assaulting the complainant and abusing him using filthy language while referring to his caste “Adiwasi”. An FIR was lodged and a criminal case was registered under Sections 324, 504, 506 read with Section 34 IPC and under Section 3 (1)(r)(s) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Apprehending arrest by Police, the appellants rushed to the court of Additional Sessions Judge for the relief of anticipatory bail under Section 438 CrPC. However, he rejected all the applications. This order was the subject matter of present appeals.

S.K. Chavan and R.J. Nirmal, Advocates representing the appellants submitted that they were students taking education in Agricultural College who had no concern with the alleged crime and were falsely implicated. Per contra, D.S. Jape, Assistant Public Prosecutor appearing for the State submitted that Section 18-A of SC/ST Act puts an embargo on the Court for exercising powers under Section 438 CrPC.

On perusing the FIR, the High Court was of the view that prima facie, ingredients of Section 3(1)(r)(s) did not match with factual score of the present case. Relying on its earlier decisions, the Court observed, “in spite of bar under Section 18 of the Act of 1989, for invocation of powers under Section 438 of the CrPC, it is still open to this Court to find out by looking to the FIR of the case itself is as to whether prima facie case is made out by the complainant against appellants.” Opining that incriminating circumstances to show that “intentional insult” or “intimidation with intent to humiliate” the complainant within public view on the part of appellants were lacking in this case, the High Court held it to be a fit case where anticipatory bail may be granted to them. Hence, the impugned order was quashed and the appeals were allowed. [Krishna v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 341, decided on 27-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of S.H. Vora, J. allowed an appeal under Section 14-A of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 whereby the appellant–original accused challenged the order passed by the Sessions Judge, whereby, the  Sessions Judge had refused to grant anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Counsel for the respondent stated that the text of the SMS messages between the parties prima facie indicated that there was a commission of offence under the provisions of the said Act and, therefore, no discretionary powers should be exercised against the appellant.

The Court, while relying on the case of Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra, (2011) 1 SCC 694, held that since the substantial investigation was over and no any other offence was registered the appeal should be allowed. [Pratikkumar Rajeshbhai Patel v. State Of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 137, Order dated 24-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Narayan Singh Dhanik, J. partly allowed a petition as a prima facie case was made out against the accused.

The applicant has prayed for quashing the Criminal Case filed under Sections 147, 148, 149, 452, 504, 323, 427 IPC and one under Section 3(1)x of the SC/ST Act.

The respondent through his counsel Pratiropp Pandey has filed an FIR by alleging that the applicant armed with a sword, pistol and lathi entered into his house and hurled abuses and caste indicating words “Neech” and “Chamar” and also assaulted him as well as his brother along with looting articles from his house. The applicant through his counsel Amit Kapri has contended that the provisions of the SC/ST Act were not attracted in this case as the FIR nowhere states that that the applicant does not belong Scheduled Caste or the Scheduled Tribe and that they intentionally insulted or intimidated the complainant and his brother with intent to humiliate them in a place within public view.

The Court here was of the view that the basic element needed to prosecute the applicant was missing here and thus the offence under the SC/ST Act cannot be sustained nonetheless the rest of the claim stood allowed.[Mahendra Bhatt v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 1022, decided on 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Birendra Kumar, J. granted bail to a person accused under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act) having regard to the inordinate delay in conclusion of trial.

The appellant was an accused in an offence that related to the carnage in which a number of persons were butchered to death. A case was registered against him under Sections 147, 148, 149, 341, 324, 307, 120B, 302 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 27 of the Arms Act, Section 3 of the Explosive Substance Act and Section 3(2)(5) of the SC/ST Act. Aggrieved by an order of the trial judge refusing grant of regular bail to him, he preferred the instant appeal under Section 14-A (2) of the SC/ST Act.

It was noted that the report of the learned trial Judge revealed the case to be at the stage of prosecution evidence but no witness had turned up till the date of hearing of the present appeal.

Submission on behalf of the appellant was that he was not named in the first information report (FIR) and the informant in his further statement had disclosed the name of one Abhinash Sharma who faced trial and was convicted. Thereafter, there was no occasion to implicate another Abhinash Sharma, i.e., the appellant.

Considering the fact that the appellant had been in custody since the last eleven years and no prosecution witness had been examined during the trial, the court observed that it was highly unlikely that the trial would be concluded in the near future. Hence, the appeal was allowed directing the appellant to be released on bail on furnishing bail bond of Rs. 20,000.[Avinash Sharma v. State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 2017, decided on 06-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single judge bench comprising of Birendra Kumar, J. allowed the plea for anticipatory bail of a person apprehending arrest under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act), on the ground of inconsistencies in statements of prosecution.

A police case was registered inter alia for poisoning the cow of a person who was purportedly the informant of offences committed by appellant under Sections 341, 323, 429, 506, 504 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860  as well as Sections 3(i)(x) of the SC/ST Act. The instant appeal was preferred under Section 14-A(2) of the SC/ST Act against trial court’s order refusing appellant’s prayer for grant of anticipatory bail.

The High Court noted that there were inconsistencies in statements made by the informant in first information report (FIR) and that of his daughter as recorded in the case diary. Informant was not the eyewitness of the occurrence alleged. His daughter was examined by the police and her statement recorded in case diary did not contain the name of the appellant. Rather, she had alleged some unknown persons to have poisoned the cow of the informant. Informant’s daughter had not supported other allegations disclosed in the FIR.

In view of the above, the appeal was allowed and anticipatory bail was granted to the appellant in the event of his arrest, subject to the condition of full cooperation in the investigation/trial of the case, failing which trial court would be at liberty to cancel his bail bond.[Brihaspati Sah v. State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1994, decided on 02-11-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court:  Attorney General KK Venugopal, seeking stay on the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Act, said that the Court cannot make rules or guidelines which go against the law passed by the legislature. He said that  the SC/ST verdict had resulted in loss of life and hence, the matter should be referred to a larger bench.

The Bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ, however, said that it was 100 per cent in favour of protecting the rights of these communities and punishing those guilty of atrocities against them. It said that while deciding on the verdict on the SC/ST Act, it had considered every aspect and all the judgments before reaching a conclusion.

The Centre had moved the Supreme Court on April 2 seeking review of its judgement by which safeguards were put on the provisions for immediate arrest under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Centre said that the verdict has “diluted” the stringent provisions of the Act, resulting in great damage to the country by causing anger and a sense of disharmony among the people.

Several states were rocked by wide spread violence and clashes following a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by several SC/ST organisations protesting the top court’s March 20 order, that claimed eight lives. While hearing the Centre’s review petition on April 3, the Court had asserted that “no provisions of SC/ST Act have been diluted” and clarified that additional safeguards had been put in place “to protect the fundamental rights” of innocents. The Court said:

“A perusal of the order of this Court makes it clear that there is no bar to compensation or other immediate relief being given to the victim member of the SC/ST as per the provisions noted above without any delay whatsoever. There is also no bar to registration of F.I.R. under any provision of the penal code or any other law and the offences under the SC/ST Act being added later, if necessary. Thus, there is no dilution of any provision of the SC/ST Act relating to compensation, trial, punishment or otherwise.”

The Court has refused to stay the March 20 verdict till it decided the Centre’s review petition.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: While disposing off the present appeal wherein the appellant was charged under Section 3(2)(va) and 3(1)(d) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the Bench of J.P. Gupta, J., reiterated the recent Supreme Court decision in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 323, holding that a police officer, who intends to arrest a person, who is not a government servant and is accused of the offence punishable under the 1989 Act, such arrest should be made with prior approval of the S.S.P concerned, only after recording the reasons of arrest in writing.

As per the facts, the appellant was the owner of the bus on which the complainant was working as a Driver. It was alleged that when the complainant demanded arrears of salary, he was abused publicly by referring to his caste. The Complainant belongs to the Scheduled Tribe community. The appellant’s counsel Harshwardhan Singh Rajput refuted the allegations and prayed before the Court to issue directions in sync with the guidelines laid down in the aforementioned Supreme Court judgment.

On perusal of the facts, the Court observed that there is no evidence to show that the FIR against the appellant was filed with malafide intentions, therefore the appellant is not entitled to get anticipatory bail. The Court however also noted that the nature of the offence is not very severe and prima facie, the appellant’s arrest is not warranted for the purpose of investigation and his presence may be secured during trial by directing him to appear before the Magistrate/Court concerned in case of filing of the charge-sheet. Furthermore the Court stated that an accused, who is not entitled to get the benefit of anticipatory bail, cannot be denied the protection available under the law with regard to unjustified and unwarranted arrest, as before arresting an accused, it is the duty of the police officer to examine and record the reasons of arrest in writing subject to scrutiny of the Magistrate/Court. [Ajeet Jain v. State of Madhya Pradesh,2018 SCC OnLine MP 327, decided on 04-04-2018]