The Supreme Court on Thursday held that “All insults or intimidations to persons belonging to Dalit or tribal communities will not be an offense under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.”
A three-judge bench comprising of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta, and Ajay Rastogi observed that “An offense is made out under the statute only if the insults or intimidations were made on account of the victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe,” while citing that the insult should be specifically intended to humiliate the victim for his caste.
Further, while emphasizing that the object of the Act is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as they are denied a number of civil rights, the bench stated that “Thus, an offense under the Act would be made out when a member of the vulnerable section of the society is subjected to indignities, humiliations, and harassment.”
The above observations were made by the Supreme Court while hearing an appeal against a Uttarakhand High Court order, which dismissed a plea filed by one Hitesh Verma under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code seeking quashing of a charge sheet and summoning order against him for an offense under Section 3(1)(r) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
As per sources, an FIR was filed against him for entering the house of the respondent and hurling casteist abuses. Therefore, 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,” asserted the court.