Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of Dr A.P. Thaker, J. while enlarging the appellant on bail disposed of a petition since the matter in dispute was already settled by the parties amicably.

In the pertinent matter, the appellant (accused -husband) and the original complainant (wife) got married while they both continued to reside separately at their respective homes and the same was not revealed to their families. Later the parents accepted them and they both were remarried. Subsequently, a complaint was made where it was alleged that the accused persons (in-laws and the husband) started abusing her regarding her caste and tortured her physically and mentally seeking dowry. An FIR was lodged after a 2 months delay to that effect. But later an affidavit was filed acknowledging the fact that the dispute has been amicably settled by the parties and that the complainant has no problem if the appeal is allowed.

The Court after considering the facts, presence of the original complainant and the affidavit so produced, was of the opinion that the husband and wife have amicably settled the dispute and the alleged offence under the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is not made out. Therefore, considered it to be a fit case to exercise its discretion under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code and thus the bail was granted. [Mauleshbhai Ramanbhai Raval v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 677, decided on 15-04-2019]

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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: An appeal was filed under Section 14-A of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 before a Single Judge Bench comprising of J.P. Gupta, J., wherein the appellant was granted anticipatory bail in a case registered under various provisions of IPC and the SC/ST Act, 1989.

The complainant belonged to the Scheduled Tribe community and worked as a driver of the bus owned by the appellant. It was alleged by the complainant that the appellant assaulted him and abused him by addressing his caste. The appellant was consequently booked under various provisions of SC/ST Act and was apprehending arrest in connection with the same. He applied for anticipatory bail before the Special Judge which was dismissed. Hence, this appeal under Section 14-A of the SC/ST Act.

While considering the instant appeal, the High Court referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court to observe that it is expected from a police officer, who intends to arrest a person, not being a government servant and is accused of the offence punishable under the Act of 1989, to arrest only with prior approval of the SSP concerned, and after recording the reasons of arrest in writing. No arrest can be made because it is lawful for the police officer to do so. The existence of the power to arrest is one thing. The justification for the exercise of it is quite another. Arrest and detention in police lock-up of a person can cause irreparable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. Hence, arrest cannot be made in routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence. It is expected from a police officer to act as a prudent man in the interest of protection of the constitutional rights of a citizen not to arrest a person without a reasonable satisfaction arrived after some investigation as to the genuineness and bonafides of a complaint and need of arrest and thereafter record genuine reasons showing that such arrest is necessary and justified. Except in heinous offences, an arrest must be avoided.

In the background of the aforesaid discussions, considering the facts and circumstances of the present case and the material available in the case diary, the Court was of the view that the nature of the offence was not very severe and prima facie, the appellant’s arrest was not warranted for the purpose of investigation. Hence, the appeal was allowed. [Ajeet Jain v. State of MP, Cr. A. No. 1757 of 2018, dated 04-04-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While hearing the review petition filed by the Central Government against the judgement dated 20.03.2018, the Bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit refused to stay the SC/ST Act verdict. The Government has filed the review petition after the Dalit outfits called for a nationwide Bandh on Monday i.e. 02.04.2018 against the verdict of the Court. At least nine people have been killed across the country due to violent protests which marred the Bharat Bandh.

The grounds for review as pointed out by Attorney General KK Venugopal are:

  • as per Rule 12(4) and (4A) read with Annexure-I of the 2016 Amendment to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, immediate compensation or other assistance has to be given to victim belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. If there is delay in preliminary inquiry, payment of such compensation or other immediate relief may be delayed.
  • there may be offences under the provision of the Indian Penal Code or any other law and direction to hold preliminary inquiry may delay registration of case in respect of such other offences also.
  • the directions are in conflict with the provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Stating that the order only safeguards abuse of power of arrest or of false implication of an innocent without in any manner affecting the rights of the members of the SC/ST, 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.”

In it’s verdict, the Bench had acknowledged the abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (the Atrocities Act) and had said that the legislature never intended to use the Atrocities Act as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance nor was it intended to deter public servants from performing their bona fide duties. It was, hence, held that unless exclusion of anticipatory bail is limited to genuine cases and inapplicable to cases where there is no prima facie case was made out, there will be no protection available to innocent citizens. It said:

“mere unilateral allegation by any individual belonging to any caste, when such allegation is clearly motivated and false, cannot be treated as enough to deprive a person of his liberty without an independent scrutiny.”

During the hearing of the review petition, the Court again said:

“we are not against the Act but innocent should not be punished.”

Noticing that the matter may have to be heard and considered further, the Court asked all parties to submit detailed replies within two days and listed the matter after 10 days. [Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 323, order dated 03.04.2018]