- COURT: Andhra Pradesh High Court.
- CITATION: CRIMINAL PETITION NO.321 OF 2015
- CASE TITLE: G.P. HEMAKOTI REDDY, ANANTHAPUR DIST. Versus P.P., HYD
- DATE OF ORDER:
- JUDGE(S): Hon’ble JusticeK. Sreenivasa Reddy
- PARTIES: PETITIONER: G.P. HEMAKOTTI REDDY | RESPONDENT: P.P., HYD
Mere talk over phone would not lead to offence under SC/ ST Act.The court reiterated that the offence under the SC-ST Act will not be attracted merely because a party belongs to a reserved caste.
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC & ST Act)
- The Criminal Petition was filed in order to vacate the proceedings in the FIR filed for the offences punishable under Section 3 (1)(x) of the SC & ST Act.
- The defacto complainant, along with his community members and family members, approached petitioner-accused, who are the landlords by the side of the temple, for possession of a certain area of land because the space available to the temple was insufficient.
- The petitioner/accused made a unanimous decision in front of the entire community to share Ac. 0.33 cents from their land.
- The petitioner, who was the Accused, called the de facto complainant and spoke to him, his family, and his community in filthy/unparliamentary language.
- C. Masthan Naidu, Senior Counsel for the Petitioner, contended that the alleged words over the phone conversation would not fall under the purview of the provisions of the SC & ST Act and that thus continuing the criminal proceeding would be an abuse of the Court's process.
- Whether a mere talk over phone would lead to an offence underScheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC & ST Act).
ANALYSIS OF THE COURT
- Justice K. Sreenivasa Reddy cited the Supreme Court decision in State of Haryana v. Ch. Bhajanlal (1992) to list the categories in which power under Section 482 to quash criminal proceedings can be exercised to prevent abuse of court process.
- One such instance is where the allegations in the First Information Report or the complaint, even if taken at face value and accepted, do not constitute an offence against the accused.
- The court reviewed the decision in Hitesh Verma v. State of Uttarakhand (2020), in which the Supreme Court held that the key ingredient of the insult or intimidation under the SC & ST Act was "any place within public view." For example, if the offence is committed in a lawn that can be seen from the road or lane outside the boundary wall, the lawn is unquestionably a public place.
- Furthermore, because the case was pending in civil court, any dispute arising from possession of the said property would not reveal an offence under the Act unless the victim was abused, intimidated, or harassed solely because she belonged to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
- The offence under the SC & ST Act would not be established solely on the basis of the informant's membership in the scheduled act.
Thus, a reading of the contents of the FIR did not reveal that the petitioner-accused said anything to humiliate the defacto complainant because he belonged to such caste. In the absence of any allegations, a phone conversation would not constitute an offence under the SC & ST Act. The Criminal Petition was granted, and the proceedings were thrown out.
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