The SC ST Atrocity Act cannot be applied automatically; the prosecution must prove that the accused targeted a victim with the knowledge that the person is a member of such a community, the Allahabad High Court has said.
LiveLaw reported that the Allahabad High Court ruled that Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act could not be invoked merely because the victim belonged to a Scheduled Tribe or Caste.
Section 3(1)(x) applies to a person who “intentionally insults or intimidates with the intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view”. It attracts a punishment of between six months and five years along with a fine.
The Court said this in its order dated September 23 in the Shiv Mohan Tiwari vs. State of UP case. Tiwari had filed an appeal with the Court in connection with the order passed by the II Additional District Judge/Special Judge, Hardloi, on October 30, 1998. The offence was committed in 1991.
Mohan Tiwari went to the field of the victim named Indal on November 6, 1991, and abused and assaulted him. The victim was rescued by two people, after which Mohan fled.
Justice Ranjana Pandya noted that nowhere was it stated that the accused used caste-related words.
“I have perused the F.I.R. There is not a whisper in the F.I.R. that the accused addressed the informant with any caste-related words. For the first time in the statement before the Court, the informant said that the accused stated as follows:- “Tab mulzim ne mujhe paasi saale jaan se maar dalenge dhamki di”.
The judge said that the counsel for Tiwari had relied on two judgements concerning the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Justice Pandya said: “The provision of Section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act and legal position, as noted above, provides that a person can be punished under this provision only when he commits such offence against person of scheduled-caste/scheduled-tribe community on the ground that such a person/victim is a member of SC/ST community. From the evidence in the present case, it appears that the act had allegedly been committed by the accused-appellant only because of already existing enmity and dispute of crop. It was not the prosecution case that the offence was committed for the reason that victim/ complainant belonged to the scheduled-caste community. At least there is no evidence in this regard. Therefore, even if prosecution case is accepted to be true in toto, in such matters the accused cannot be punished for offence punishable under Section 3(1)(x) of SC/ST Act.”