Madhya Pradesh High Court says abusing by caste name Chamar in staffroom not offence under SC/ST

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently quashed a criminal case under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act) since the alleged offence took place in a staff room, which the Court opined was not a public place [Ashutosh Tiwari vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh].

Justice Vishal Dhagat was dealing with a case wherein the accused petitioners were alleged to have verbally accused the complainant while referring to his caste, Chamar, during a staffroom meeting.

The Court noted that Section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act penalises intentional insult or intimidation of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place “within the public view.”

Since the staff room is not a “place within public view”, no offence would lie against the accused, the Court held.

“It is clear that offence shall be committed in a public view to make out an offence under Section Section 3(1)(x) of SC & ST (POA) Act. Staff room is not a place within public view, therefore, no offence under Section 3(1)(x) of SC & ST (POA) Act is made out against petitioners,” stated the order.

The Court also quashed a charge under section 294 (obscene acts and song) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), since the alleged verbal abuse did not take place in a public place. The common public does not have access to the staff room without permission of the school, the Court reasoned.

“In these circumstances, offence under Section 294 of IPC is also not made out against petitioners,” it added.

Moreover, the Court found that the offence of criminal intimidation under Section 506 of the IPC was not made out against the petitioners either. The complainant had not alleged that he was alarmed when he was allegedly abused, the Court reasoned.

The Court proceeded to quash the entire criminal proceeding pending before Chief Judicial Magistrate in Shahdol in the matter.

Advocate Vipin Yadav represented the petitioners (accused), whereas Government Advocate Akshay Namdeo represented the State government.

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