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Judiciary

SC sets free man from case under SC/ST Act as offence not committed due to caste [Read Judgment]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      30 January, 2024 05:01 PM      0 Comments
SC sets free man from case under SC ST Act as offence not committed due to caste

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that the offence under the stringent Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would be punishable only if it was committed due to the victim's caste.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai, Prashant Kumar Mishra and Sandeep Mehta set free appellant Dashrath Sahu of the offence of using force or assault against a woman belonging to Scheduled Caste to dishonour or outrage her modesty.

The court set aside the conviction of appellant  under Section 3(1)(xi) of the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

"A plain reading of the section makes it clear that the offence of outraging the modesty should be committed with the intention that the victim belonged to the Scheduled Caste category," the bench said.

The bench, while examining  whether the conviction of the appellant was justified and lawful, noted as per the FIR, the victim was engaged for doing household jobs and the appellant tried to outrage her modesty when she was doing the household chores.

"Even from the highest allegations of the prosecutrix, the offending act was not committed by the accused with the intention that he was doing so upon a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste," the bench said.

The bench further pointed out the language of Section 3(1)(xi) of the SC/ST Act is pari materia as the same also provides that the offence must be committed upon a person belonging to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes with the intention that it was being done on the ground of caste.

"We are of the opinion that the conviction of the accused appellant for the offence under Section 3(1)(xi) of the SC/ST Act was otherwise also not sustainable on merits," the bench said.

The Chhattisgarh High Court reduced the sentence from one year to six months imprisonment.

The appellant filed a compromise agreement with the victim, his domestic help.

The HC said the offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act was not compoundable.

However, the HC partly allowed the appeal and acquitted the accused of the offences punishable under Sections 354 and 451 IPC.

 

[Read Judgment]



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