All insults not offence under SC/ST Act: Supreme Court

‘The insult should be specifically intended to humiliate the victim for his caste’

November 05, 2020 10:02 pm | Updated November 06, 2020 12:19 am IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court of India. File

The Supreme Court of India. File

All insults or intimidations to persons belonging to Dalit or tribal communities will not be an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court said in a judgment on Thursday

An offence 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, the court.

Also read | Supreme Court upholds amendments made to nullify own judgment diluting provisions of SC/ST Act

“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,” a three-judge Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao observed.

The court said the insult should be specifically intended to humiliate the victim for his caste.

“Offence under the Act is not established merely on the fact that the informant [complainant] is a member of Scheduled Caste unless there is an intention to humiliate a member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe for the reason that the victim belongs to such caste,” the court said.

Also read | SC/ST Act being used for blackmail, says Supreme Court

The court said the object of the Act is to punish the violators who inflict indignities, humiliations and harassment.

“It is intended to punish the acts of the upper caste against the vulnerable section of the society for the reason that they belong to a particular community,” the judgment noted.

Also read | Crime against Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes saw a rise of 7% and 26% in 2019: NCRB

The court was hearing an appeal filed by a man, Hitesh Verma, booked under the Act for allegedly abusing a Dalit woman in her house.

The court found that allegations against Verma do not fulfil the basic ingredient under the Act that such humiliation should have happened in public view.

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Since the incident occurred within four walls in the absence of members of the public, allegations against Verma under the Act do not stand. He can be tried under ordinary criminal law.

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