On Thursday (5th November 2020), the Supreme Court said in a judgment that 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, 1989
The court said that 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. This was said by a bench of three judges headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao. The bench observed that “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.”
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 [the 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. The object of the Act was to punish the violators who inflict indignities, humiliations, and harassment as stated by the Court. The judgment given by the court said that it was 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.” An appeal filed by Hitesh Verma who was booked under the Act for allegedly abusing a Dalit woman in her house was heard by the court. The allegations against Verma did not happen in public view which does not fulfill the basic ingredient under the Act that such humiliation should have happened in public view. Since the incident occurred within four walls in the absence of members of the public, allegations against Verma under the Act do not stand and due to this, Verma can be tried under ordinary criminal law.