Bail cannot be granted in SC/ ST Act cases without hearing the victim: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court recently held that in cases registered under The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, bail cannot be granted without hearing the victim/complainant [X v State NCT of Delhi & Anr].

In an order passed on February 14, Justice Navin Chawla said that bail granted without issuing notice to the complainant is liable to be cancelled.

“It is apparent that where there is an infraction of the mandate of sub-section (3) and (5) of Section 15A of the SC & ST Act, it cannot be cured by providing a hearing to the victim in a proceeding that arises subsequently, including one for cancellation of bail. Compliance with sub-section (3) and (5) of Section 15A of the SC & ST Act is mandatory in nature and the bail granted in contravention thereof is liable to be set aside only on that ground,” the Court held.

The Court was dealing with a plea filed by the victim challenging the order passed by the trial court grating bail to an accused booked under Section 376 (rape), 354B (disrobing woman to be naked in public), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Sections 3(1)(w)(i) (sexually touching woman of SC/ST community) and 3(2)(v) (disrespecting a person of SC/ST community who is held in high esteem) of SC & ST Act were also invoked against the accused.

It was the complainant’s case that the order was passed without service of notice to her.

The Court considered the case and agreed that the order had been passed without ensuring service of notice to the victim and without giving her an opportunity of hearing.

“The application seeking bail filed by the respondent no.2 is restored back to the file of the learned special judge. The same shall be considered by the learned special judge after giving an opportunity of hearing to the appellant herein, who is the alleged victim,” the Court ordered.

However, it said that the accused shall not be taken into custody for a period of 15 days, subject to the orders passed by the special judge on the application of the accused.

Senior Advocate Trideep Pais along with advocates Mihir Samson, Asawari Sodhi and Gargi Sethi appeared for the victim.

Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Shoaib Haider represented the State.

Senior Advocate SK Manan with advocates Rahul Khan, Karmanya Singh Choudhary, Ritik and Lavish appeared for the accused.

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