Orissa HC reiterates 'utterance of abuse by taking victim's caste name' not offence under S 3(1)(x) SC/ST Act

In this case from 2012, the petitioner is said to have beaten up the informant with a stick after his cattle got alarmed due to the noise of labour work. The informant was also allegedly abused by his caste's name by the accused.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, December 29, 2022, 07:20 PM IST
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Orissa HC | PTI

A charge under Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, like before the amendment in 2016, should not be invoked just because the accused took the victim's caste name, unless it is done with an intention to insult or intimidate and to humiliate him for being a member of the SC or ST community, the Orissa HC reiterated, LiveLaw reported.

Since January 6, 2016, section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act stands substituted by Section 3(1)(r) of the said Act. The particular case in the court was from 2012.

Intentional insult or intimidation punishable

As per the provision in the act, "Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in place within public view shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.”

HC quashes sessions court's order

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik, quashed an order taking cognizance under the said provision, while relying Supreme Court's decision in Hitesh Verma Vrs. The State of Uttarakhand and Another.

“So having regard to the intent and purpose of the law in place meant to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of the marginalized sections of the society, any such offence committed by a person other than a SC or ST must have to have the requisite intention to insult and intimidate his counterpart for him to be from a backward class because of his caste. So it has to be held that all insults or intimidation do not make out an offence under the Act unless it is directed against the person on account of his caste.”

What is this case?

In this case from 2012, the petitioner is said to have beaten up the informant with a stick after his cattle got alarmed due to the noise of labour work. The informant was also allegedly abused by his caste's name by the accused.

After registration of the FIR and filing of the chargesheet, the Sessions Court passed the impugned order, whereby it framed charges against the petitioner under Sections 294, 323 and 506, IPC and Section 3(1)(x) SC & ST (PoA) Act.

The Petitioner had approached the HC with a prayer to quash the order.

"Though the petitioner uttered the name of informant’s caste, it observed, utterances of abuse by taking the name of one’s caste would not be an offence under the Section 3(1)(x) of the Act unless the intention is to insult, intimidate the person being for him being an SC or ST," the HC observed in this case.

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