All Offences Against SCs, STs Don’t Come Under SC/ST Act: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that all offences cannot be considered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act only on the ground that the complainant is a member of SC or ST.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi said, “All insults or intimidations to a person will not be an offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.”

The bench said the object of the Act is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the SC/ST people as they are denied a number of civil rights, a news agency reported.

“Thus, an offence under the Act would be made out when a member of the vulnerable section of the society is subjected to indignities, humiliations and harassment,” added the bench.

The top court said that it is essential to establish that there is an intention to humiliate the victim because he belongs to such a caste. The bench cited that another key ingredient of the provision, under Section 3 (1) (r), is that the insult or intimidation was done in “any place within public view”.

The judges expressed the view on an appeal against an Uttarakhand High Court order, which dismissed a plea filed by one Hitesh Verma under Section 482 of the CrPC seeking quashing of a chargesheet and summoning order against him for an offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the SC/ST Act. An FIR was filed against him for entering the house of the respondent and hurling casteist abuses.

The bench noted that as per the FIR, the allegations of abuse were within the four walls of the building and there was no member of the public (not merely relatives or friends) at the time of the incident in the house.

“Therefore, the basic ingredient that the words were uttered ‘in any place within public view’ is not made out,” said the top court.

The SC quashed the chargesheet to the extent of offence under the special law against petitioner Hemant Verma and others.

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