Abuse Which is Not In Public domain: Not An Offence- SC/ST Act,1989
History of the Act
- Atrocity : An Act of cruel treatment to something/ someone
- The deep root for such atrocities is traceable to the caste system, which “encompasses a complete ordering of social groups on the basis of the so-called ritual purity.
- A person is considered a member of the caste into which s/he is born and remains within that caste until death.
- Considered ritually impure, Dalits have been physically and socially excluded from mainstream society.
- Accordingly, they face various forms of exploitation, insults and violence, as well as degrading practices of untouchability.
- Same with the case of ST community, not much with caste system but distinct Culture.
Need for the act
- Despite of Article 15 and 17 Of Indian Constitution, non- discrimination on basis of caste and race and untouchability continued.
- Hence, the Indian Parliament enacted the Untouchability Offences Act 1955, which underwent amendment and renaming in 1976 to become the Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act.
- Under this Act, ‘untouchability’ as a result of religious and social disabilities was made punishable
- However, due to legal loopholes, the law and order machinery being neither professionally trained nor socially inclined to implement such social legislation,
- a more comprehensive and more punitive Act was required.
- This gave rise to the SC/ST (PoA) Act 1989.
- The Act is divided into three different categories.
- It contains provisions of criminal law. It establishes criminal liability for a number of specifically defined atrocities.
- It contains provisions for relief and compensation for victims of atrocities.
- It contains provisions that establish special authorities for the implementation and monitoring of the Act.
- The Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns of behaviors inflicting criminal offences for shattering the self-respect and esteem of SCs and STs, denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process, etc.
- Section 3 of the Act lists the criminal offences and the punishments.
- The Act prohibits social disabilities such as forceful eating/drinking of inedible, sexual exploitation, forceful removal of clothes, etc
- Offences under this Act are cognizable and non-bailable and anticipatory bail cannot be granted to the accused. [Section 18A(2)]
- This Act is Applies on non SC and ST.
Hitesh Verma v. State of Uttarakhand (2020)
- In this case the J. Nageswara Rao led 3-judge bench held that all insults hurled at a member of the SC ST community cannot be deemed to be an offence under the Act unless there exists a malicious intention to humiliate a member from that community for the very reason that the victim belongs to that caste. The Court also held that since the humiliation occurred within four walls of the house, it does not satisfy the test of public view, under the Act.
Pardeep Kumar v. State of Haryana (2020)
- In this case the accused uttered strong casteist slurs over a telephonic conversation with the victim. The court, in this case, held that a telephone call does not fall under the purview of the public gaze and therefore, in absence of such public view does not show the presence of mens rea to humiliate the victim.
Rithesh Pais v. State of Karnataka (10th June 2022)
- In this case, The Hon’ble Karnataka High Court held that abuses hurled by him to the complainant were in the basement of a building which was not a place of public view or a public place with respect to Section 3 (1) (r) and (s) of the Act.