LAW Courses

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More


In a very significant development, we saw just recently on October 12, 2021 that the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment titled Bhagwant Singh Randhawa and another vs State of Punjab in CRM-M No.42685 of 2021 (O&M) directed in no uncertain terms the Director-General of Police, Punjab to not register FIR under the SC&ST Act at the instance of a third party unless an opinion is sought from the District Attorney (Legal) that the complainant falls within the definition of the victim as per the SC&ST Act. It must be mentioned here that the single Judge Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan of Punjab and Haryana High Court made the obtaining of legal opinion mandatory while observing that so-called social activists are misusing the provisions of the SC&ST Act. Very rightly so as this will ensure that the misuse of this Act is checked at the earliest!

To start with, the single Judge Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing in the introductory para of this learned, latest, laudable and landmark judgment that, “Prayer in this petition is for grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioners in FIR No.189 dated 07.09.2021 registered under Sections 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Amendment 2015) (in short ‘the SC&ST Act’) at Police Station Rama Mandi, District Jalandhar.”

While laying the background, the Bench then states that, “Counsel for the petitioners has argued that petitioner No.1 is aged about 67 years and petitioner No.2 is aged about 58 years and they are husband and wife and are senior citizens. It is further submitted that in fact, the dispute of the petitioners is with their own son namely Prince Randhawa @ Prince, who wanted to perform marriage with a girl namely Ramanpreet Kaur, who belongs to SC/ST Caste and prior to his marriage, there was some private conversation between the petitioners on one side and their son Prince Randhawa @ Prince and Ramanpreet Kaur on the other side, in which it is alleged that the petitioners have used some derogatory words against the community of Ramanpreet Kaur. It is further submitted that later on, Prince Randhawa @ Prince performed the marriage with Ramanpreet Kaur on 26.03.2021.”

While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then observes in the next para that, “Counsel for the petitioners has further submitted that much prior to the performance of the marriage, the petitioners have disowned their own son by issuing a notice in the newspaper on 14.09.2016 as he used to maltreat the petitioners. It is further submitted that after performing the marriage, the atrocities of Prince Randhawa @ Prince increased as he wanted the petitioners to be ousted from the house which the petitioners have purchased on 10.04.1997. It is also submitted that on 22.03.2021, the petitioners received a telephonic call from a lady who claimed to be President of some Crime Branch and asked them to come to the Police Station Rama Mandi, Jalandhar. The petitioners went there and met with one ASI Tehal Dass, who put pressure on the petitioners to transfer the property in the name of Prince Randhawa @ Prince otherwise, they will be falsely implicated in some case.”

As we see, it is then mentioned by the Bench in the next para that, “Counsel for the petitioners has relied upon certain documents which the petitioners obtained under the RTI Act for the purpose of calling them in the Police Station and putting pressure to sign a draft compromise dated 24.03.2021 to which the petitioners did not accede.”

Furthermore, the Bench then brings out in the next para that, “Counsel for the petitioners has also argued that the petitioners by giving a representation to the Commissioner of Police, Jalandhar, filed CRWP No.5260 of 2021, for seeking protection to their life and liberty and the same was disposed of by this Court on 07.09.2021 with a direction to the Commissioner of Police, Jalandhar to decide the representation of the petitioners by passing a speaking order within a period of 06 weeks. It is further submitted that now the present FIR has been registered with the allegation that Prince Randhawa @ Prince has recorded some private conversation between the petitioners and Prince Randhawa @ Prince in which abusive language has been used regarding the caste of Ramanpreet Kaur, wife of Prince Randhawa @ Prince. It is also submitted that as a ploy to oust the petitioners from the house, Prince Randhawa @ Prince uploaded the said audio recording on his social media profile and the complainants namely Navdeep, Sunil Bagha and Gurdeep Singh, claiming themselves to be a social activist in Jalandhar have got the aforesaid FIR registered.”

In addition, the Bench then discloses in the next para that, “Counsel for the petitioners has further argued that none of the informant would fall under the definition of ‘Victim’ as per Section 2(1)(ec) of the SC&ST Act, which refer to a victim as “individual” who has suffered or experienced physical, mental, psychological, emotional or monetary harm to his property, which includes his relatives, legal guardian and legal heirs.”

Going ahead, the Bench then further adds in the next para that, “Counsel for the petitioners has also submitted that none of the aforesaid complainant of the FIR, are related to Ramanpreet Kaur. It is further submitted that even otherwise it was a private conversation between the petitioners, on one side and their son Prince Randhawa @ Prince, therefore, no offence is made out and the FIR is now used to oust the petitioners from their house as even on a previous occasion, the efforts have been made even by using the police force.”

Not stopping here, the Bench then further adds in the next para that, “Counsel for the petitioners has also relied upon some photographs to show that petitioner No.1 was given beatings by his own son Prince Randhawa @ Prince and despite a fact that this Court has issued a direction to the police to look into the matter, no action has been taken so far.”

Adding more to it, the Bench then also points out in the next para that, “Lastly, it is argued on behalf of the petitioners that even Prince Randhawa @ Prince has filed a civil suit against the petitioners with regard to the house and the same is pending consideration.”

What’s more, the Bench then states that, “Notice of motion. Mr. Joginder Pal Ratra, DAG, Punjab who is present in the Court accepts notice on behalf of the respondent – State while Mr. Navraj Singh, Advocate has appeared on behalf of the complainant.”

As it turned out, the Bench then mentions in the next para that, “Counsel for the State assisted by counsel for the complainant and on instructions from ASI Satinder Kumar, has argued that a perusal of the audio clip recorded by Prince Randhawa @ Prince (son of the petitioners), show that they have used some derogatory language against his wife Ramanpreet Kaur, in the name of her caste.”

For the sake of clarity, the Bench then states in the next para that, “On a Court query, counsel for the State submits that Ramanpreet Kaur has not come forward to lodge any complaint with the police.”

Of course, the Bench then hastens to add in the next para that, “This fact is also not disputed by counsel for the complainant that neither Ramanpreet Kaur has given any complaint nor the three complainants, in any manner, are related to her.”

Most significantly, what comes as an icing on the cake is then envisages in this para wherein it is clearly held that, “After hearing the counsel for the parties, considering the fact that the petitioners are senior citizens and petitioner No.1 is a Doctor by profession and the petitioners have no criminal antecedents, in any manner and admittedly, there is a property dispute between the petitioners, on one side and his son Prince Randhawa @ Prince, on the other side, who has been disowned by the petitioners in the year 2016, now on account of the fact that Prince Randhawa @ Prince has performed marriage with Ramanpreet Kaur, the present FIR is registered by 03 persons who are not “victims” as per Section 2(1)(ec) of the SC&ST Act, there is clear misuse of process of law by invoking provisions of SC&ST Act.”

No less significant is what is then stated in the next para wherein it is postulated that, “Be whatsoever, the conduct and behaviour of Ramanpreet Kaur in not lodging any complaint against her parents-in-law i.e. the present petitioners show that she is hopeful of getting the things resolved in future and therefore, finding that none of the complainant has any locus standi to register the present FIR, the present petition is allowed and the petitioners are directed to be released on anticipatory bail on furnishing bail/surety bonds subject to the conditions envisaged under Section 438(2) Cr.P.C.”

To be sure, the Bench then clarifies in the next para that, “It will be open for the Investigating Officer to issue notice in writing to the petitioners to join the investigation.”

Finally and equally significant is what is then stated by the Bench in the last para while disposing of this petition that, “Considering the fact that so-called social activists are misusing the provisions of SC&ST Act, Director General of Police, Punjab is directed to issue instructions to all the Senior Superintendents of Police in Districts that no FIR under SC&ST Act be registered at the instance of third party, unless an opinion is sought from the District Attorney (Legal) that the complainant falls within the definition of victim as per SC&ST Act. Disposed of.”

No doubt, this is an extremely commendable, cogent, convincing, courageous and composed judgment by a single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan of Punjab and Haryana High Court wherein it is made absolutely clear that FIR should not be registered at third party’s instance sans opinion of district attorney (legal) and Punjab DGP is directed to comply with accordingly. It merits no reiteration that Justice Sangwan very rightly, rationally and robustly took into account the irrefutable fact that the state counsel and the counsel of the complainant accepted the clinching fact that neither the girl, against whom the alleged derogatory words were used gave any complaint in the instant case nor the three complainants, in any manner are related to her. It goes without saying: We have to therefore concede that all the courts in India must definitely pay heed to what Justice Sangwan has held so admirably in this notable case and apply it in similar such cases also!


"Loved reading this piece by Sanjeev Sirohi?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"






Tags :


Category Others, Other Articles by - Sanjeev Sirohi 



Comments


update
Post a Suggestion for LCI Team
Post a Legal Query