The Jharkhand High Court has said that Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (for short SC/ST Act) has been enacted to protect the interest of marginalized section of society and not to be used as an instrument of persecution to settle scores.

The order taking cognizance passed by Special Judge, SC/ST, Dhanbad in a case registered under Sections 323, 451, 506, and 120B of IPC and Sections 3(i)(x) of the SC/ST Act was under challenge in the instant criminal miscellaneous petition.

A Single Bench of Justice Gautam Kumar Choudhary held, “In the present case the place of occurrence has been said to be the ‘house premise’ of the complainant in para 14 of the complaint petition. During inquiry the complainant, his wife and another witness has been examined. What were the words used in calling the caste name of the Complainant is in cloud. Contrary to the statement of the Complainant and his wife (EW-1) , EW 2 has stated that the accused persons had called the caste name as ‘Harijan’ and not the expression of ‘Adivasi’ as stated by the Complainant and his wife. … The special law of SC/ST Act has been enacted to protect the interest of the marginalized section of the Society and it is not intended to be used as an instrument of persecution to settle scores.”

The Bench said that there is contradiction in the statement made by the complainant and his wife regarding the use of expression of insinuation against the Complainant by the petitioners.

Advocate Prashant Kr. Singh represented the petitioners while SPP Nehala Sharmin and Advocate Gautam Kumar represented the opposite party.

Factual Background -

The case of the complainant was that he had purchased 10 katha of land in District Dhanbad by two registered sale deeds executed in 2001 and 2005. After that the land was duly mutated in the name of his wife and the said land was purchased by him from a man in which another person was also the joint holder of the said land. The said person executed power of attorney and the power-of-attorney holder sold the land to one of the petitioners in the year 2006. It was alleged that the petitioners were attempting to oust the complainant from the vicinity and had implicated him in several litigations.

One had demolished the portion of the boundary wall of the complainant, and had also fixed explosive substance in the gate of the complainant, in order to terrorize him. Under Section 145 of CrPC, possession of the wife of the complainant was declared with respect to the land in question and it was alleged that the petitioners other accused persons entered into his premises and started shouting “Sala Adiwasi Hum logon Ka Baat Nahi Manta Hai, Sala Achoot Humlogon Ke Samne Sir Utha Kar Baat Karta Hai”. They also manhandled the complainant. After enquiry, prima facie case was found to be made out and summon was issued and being aggrieved by the order, instant petition was filed.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “The main plea of the petitioners is that the stringent provisions of SC/ST have been misused against the petitioners by the complainant, to settle score over ongoing civil dispute for passage. … From the pleadings and the arguments advanced it appears that the complainant had earlier filed a case under Explosive Substances Act against Harinder Singh, CEO of the Asharfi Hospital (Petitioner no.2), in which final form was submitted and accepted, the revision against the said order was rejected.”

The Court noted that in another case filed by the complainant under SC/ST Act against third party, the cognizance was not taken as he could not present his caste certificate.

“Two cases earlier filed one under the Explosive Substance Act and another under the SC/ST Act, have falsified the stand of the Complainant, which lends credence to the argument of the petitioners that he is a habitual litigant. There is no clarity as to the place of occurrence which is the house premise, if it was in public view or not”, further said the Court.

The Court added that the dispute with the complainant did not take place because of his caste, but was because of land dispute. It concluded that the present case is a case of malicious prosecution and it will be an abuse of process of court to permit the continuation of prosecution under the provisions of SC/ST Act.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the petition and quashed the cognizance of offence.

Cause Title- Nayan Prakash Singh & Ors. v. The State of Jharkhand & Anr.

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