The Karnataka High Court has said that merely hurling abuses or taking the name of the caste would not make it an offence under Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, unless it is made with an intention to insult the victim.
"Section 3(1)(r) of the Act mandates that whoever intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view. Section 3(1)(s) would mandate that if any person is seen to have abused the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe by caste name in any place within public view. Therefore, the soul of the provision is intention. The insult should be intentional and the intimidation should be with intent to humiliate a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe," Justice M Nagaprasanna said.
The court quashed the proceedings against an accused Shailesh Kumar V, a resident of Bengaluru Rural, insofar as it related to provisions of the Atrocities Act.
According to the prosecution, the matter arose out of a quarrel between two groups over a game of cricket.
The Suryanagar police in Anekal taluk had registered the FIR for offences under IPC on the basis of a complaint by the mother of the victim, who was part of the team that had lost the match.
The petitioner approached the High Court after the police filed a charge sheet under IPC sections as well as Section 3 (1) (r) and (s) of the Atrocities Act.
The petitioner contended that though initially offences only under the IPC were registered, the Atrocities Act was invoked since several players in the cricket game gave statements that there were abuses hurled while the game was being played.
The petitioner argued that the charge sheet only narrated the allegation of assault, kidnapping and fight between the two and there was no intention, even if it is accepted that the abuses were hurled taking the name of the caste.
"Mere hurling of abuses without any intention to insult or make
casteist remarks would not become an offence under the Act," his counsel Jaysham Jayasimha Rao said.
The government counsel Smt K P Yashodha, said merely because there was rivalry between the son of the complainant and the petitioner and his friends which arose out of cricket match it cannot be made a tool for quashment of the proceedings under Section 482 of the CrPC. She vehemently opposed the petition by contending that no fault can be found with the act of the Investigating Officer including the offences under the Act while filing final report.
"Intention or otherwise of the petitioner in hurling abuses is a matter of trial. Since the charge sheet is already filed, the court should not interfere with any of the offences so alleged and permit trial to be concluded, as it is for the petitioner to come out clean in the trial," she said.
The court, however, said, “The insult should be intentional and the intimidation should be with intent to humiliate a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe."
The bench also said that in the case at hand, the investigation was conducted by the sub-inspector and hence there is violation of Rule 7 framed under the Atrocities Act, as there is no order directing investigation to be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police.
Insofar as the IPC offences are concerned, it is for the petitioner to come out clean since they are grave in nature, the court added.