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Offences Committed Against A Community’s Members [SC/ST]: Analysis Of The Madras High Court Judgment

Vanshita Singh ,
  28 September 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
High Court of Judicature at Madras
Brief :

Citation :
Crl.R.C.No.1165 of 2022

CASE TITLE:
Dr. R Radhakrishnan Vs. The Assistant Commissioner Of Police And Another

DATE OF ORDER:
18 August 2022

JUDGE(S):
Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy

PARTIES:
Petitioner: Dr. R Radhakrishnan
Respondent: The Assistant Commissioner of Police and another

SUBJECT

The Madras High Court recently dismissed a university professor’s petition challenging a trial court’s denial to order an investigation into his complaint, stating that Section 3(1)(u) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes only applies when an individual attempts to incite animosity toward the SC or ST community as a whole.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

  • Section 3(1)(u) - Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe,

(u) by words either written or spoken or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise promotes or attempts to promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will against members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes; or

(zb) causes physical harm or mental agony of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe on the allegation of practicing witchcraft or being a witch,

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.

The Code of Criminal procedure

  • Section 156 - Police officer’s power to investigate cognizable case. - (1) Any officer in charge of a police station may, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate any cognizable case which a Court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station would have power to inquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII. (2) No proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate. (3) Any Magistrate empowered under section 190 may order such an investigation as above-mentioned.

BRIEF FACTS

  • This revision was filed in protest of the Court of Sessions, Chennai order (Special Court under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act), dated 09.06.2022, in which the learned Judge denied the petitioner’s request to refer his complaint from the 26.07.2021, for investigation by the responding police under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

ISSUES RAISED

  • Whether the procedure adopted by the trial was erroneous or not?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER

  • The learned Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the petitioner has been wronged in this instance, in the very act of filing the complaint. He claimed to have submitted the current petition to the Trial Court on September 30, 2022. Strangely, the petition was returned with some questions and has not even been given a number. In addition to acting as counsel, the petitioner submitted the required affidavit and pertinent Supreme Court judgments. However, the Trial Court used an odd method of recording the sworn statement, and after doing so without even numbering the petition, the Trial Court dismissed the petition.
  • The Trial Court’s justifications that the complaint was filed routinely to harass the potential accuser are without merit. Additionally, the Trial Court made the erroneous determination that the complainant did not file the affidavit. He contended that this is a situation where the court should intervene.
  • He said that the proposed accused, namelyDr. Rita John had explicitly and unambiguously claimed that the petitioner had misbehaved with the female students and had scrawled derogatory remarks on the whiteboard. The proposed accused was aware of the petitioner’s caste. She only levelled these accusations against the petitioner because he belonged to Schedule Caste.
  • It is evident that the petitioner did not make a mistake because the University did not take any action against the petitioner. Once the complaint is said to be a false complaint, offences under Sections 3 (1) (u) and 3(1) (zb)are made out. Therefore, the Trial Court should have forwarded the complaint of the petitioner for inquiry under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. where it discloses prima facie cognizable offences.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The learned Counsel from the side of the respondent submitted that the petitioner, a professor, had misbehaved with the female pupils. His actions were mentioned in a complaint that was made to the higher authorities. Consequently, this complaint is submitted in response.
  • He claimed that as the Department Head, it was the responsibility of the proposed accused to inform the senior officer, and she had only done the same. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 would not apply if an FIR was to be filed even in regard to the aforementioned behavior. He argued that it is unknown at this time whether the University has taken action or not about the validity of the complaint. He therefore contended that the change is without merit.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • The Court observed that the complainant has filed the affidavit in the case of Priyanka Srivastava &Another Vs. State of U.P. & Ors even though she had initially neglected to do so as instructed by the Hon. Supreme Court. As a result, the Trial Court should have given the petition a number and heard the knowledgeable counsel.
  • The complaint should have been forwarded under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. if the Trial Court had determined that there were prima facie cognizable offences, in which case the Trial Court should have given the proper instructions to immediately file a FIR or to launch a primary investigation.
  • Even though, the criminal miscellaneous petition should have been assigned a number, and the proceedings must be brought to a logical conclusion if the Trial Court had opted to accept the matter as a private complaint and conduct the investigation under Sections 200 and 203 Cr.P.C.
  • The Trial Court in this case recorded the sworn statement in a petition but did not pursue the investigation to its logical conclusion and issued an order pursuant to Section 203 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Court therefore concurred with the knowledgeable Counsel for the Petitioner in that regard.

CONCLUSION

According to the charges, the suggested accused did nothing more than file the complaint; there was no attempt to do the petitioner any physical injury or emotional distress by allegedly engaging in witchcraft. In light of the Court’s determination that the claims in the complaint do not, on their face, amount to criminal offences under Section 3(1)(u) or 3(1)(zb) of the Act, the Court was unable to persuade itself to submit the complaint to the responding police for inquiry. Therefore, even while the bench agreed in part with the petitioner’s learned counsel that the Trial Court’s procedure was improper, this revision still failed and the court found nothing in this complaint to submit it to the respondent police for inquiry. This revision is therefore rejected.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

Learn the practical aspects of CrPC HERE, CPC HERE, IPC HERE, Evidence Act HERE, Family Laws HERE, DV Act HERE

 
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