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Three people accused of crimes against a member of a Scheduled Caste were recently granted anticipatory bail by the Bombay High Court, which noted that just because an accused individual made noise in his own home doesn't necessarily suggest that it was done with sexual purpose.

"We cannot assume that just because a person makes some noise in his home, that person has some sort of sexual motivation toward the informant. In light of this, the court determined that "even a prima facie offense under Section 3(1)(w)(ii) of the Atrocities Act cannot be deemed to have been attracted."

Judges Vibha Kankanwadi and Abhay S. Waghwase, sitting on a divisional bench, further pointed out that the appellants had attempted to file complaints against the informant initially, but the police had declined to do so.

"law-abiding citizens deserve to be safeguarded" 

The court ruled that "law-abiding citizens deserve to be safeguarded" when they follow legal procedure and go to the police station to file a report, but their report is not taken.

The informant, one of the appellants' neighbours, said that one of them used to glance at her in a way that offended her modesty. She claimed that while using his phone after dark, the appellant recorded a video of her home. Additionally, he frequently blew the reverse horn of his car and whistled from the terrace while making noise with various kitchen tools. The complainant and the watchman were injured by stones thrown at them by the appellants, the FIR claims. The appellants' request for anticipatory bail had been denied by a Special Judge. The current appeal was filed following section 14-A of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989).

According to the appellants, they filed multiple complaints against the informant and her spouse. Their allegations were not taken seriously by the police. Due to these complaints, the FIR has been filed as retaliation.

According to the complainant's response affidavit, Section 18 of the Act prohibits anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the CrPC because Section 3 of the Act (Punishments for Atrocities) offences are established in the FIR.

Plaintiff claims 

The plaintiff claimed that the accused had abused her in chorus in the first alleged case of caste abuse, which the court recorded. The caste name was not mentioned in the abuse. "Even so, if we take that into account, such abuse was meant to humiliate the informant; nonetheless, it should be emphasized that it is claimed to have been said in chorus, which is an incredible act. A chorus of abuses is not permitted, the court added.

The FIR said that when the complainant and her husband called the appellant's landlord, he also verbally attacked them. The court ruled that because the abuses were made over the phone, they cannot be considered to have taken place in plain sight or a public area, as required by sections 3(1)(r) or 3(1)(s) of the Act.

Court observation 

The court pointed out that the FIR is ambiguous about the actual location of the complainant and appellants during the stone-pelting event. The court decided that it did not fall within Sections 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s) of the Act.

The accused must touch a woman who is a member of a Scheduled Caste knowing that she is a member of such caste and the touch must be sexual without the lady's consent to be charged under section 3(1)(w)(i) of the Act. The court ruled that the FIR did not demonstrate that any of the appellants made sexually suggestive contact with the informant's body.

The use of sexually explicit words, actions, or gestures toward a woman who belongs to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe while knowing that she does so is a violation of section 3(1)(w)(ii). According to the court, there are no specifics about these alleged instances in the FIR, and the complainant has never previously filed a complaint.

The FIR was filed over three months after the last claimed event, and the judge noticed a delay in filing it.

The informant and her husband may be seen filming the appellants' home in images that the appellants submitted. The court further stated, "Sufficient data is before this Court to conclude that the First Information Report has been lodged with ulterior motives. The purpose of such behaviour will have to be examined at the time of trial."

The court determined that since no prima facie offence was shown in the FIR, anticipatory bail was not subject to a bar under the section offense Act.


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