The Orissa High Court while dealing with a petition filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code against the order of the Sessions Judge held that the utterances of abuse by taking the name of one’s caste would not be an offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 2015 i.e., the SC&ST (PoA) Act.

A Single Bench of Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik said –

“No doubt petitioner took the name of the informant’s caste while abusing the latter. By taking the caste name or utterances of abuse by taking the name of one’s caste would not be an offence under the Section 3(1)(x) of the SC&ST (PoA) Act unless the intention is to insult, intimidate the person being a SC or ST. If the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Hitesh Verma (supra) is read, appreciated and understood in its proper perspective and applied to case at hand, there appears no such intention on the part of the petitioner for being in dominant position as a man of forward class to insult and intimidate the informant being a member of SC and ST. If the victim is humiliated within public view for being SC or ST and with that intention, any overt act or mischief is committed, an offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the SC & ST (PoA) Act would be made out otherwise not.”

Advocate Rajesh Kumar Mohapatra appeared for the petitioner while ASC Sidharth Shankar Mohapatra represented the opposite parties.

Brief Facts –

In this case, an incident happened in the year 2012 when labour work was in progress at the spot, and at that moment, the petitioner said to have abused the informant. On account of noise during such work, the cattle got alarmed which annoyed him, and in course of events, abused and assaulted the latter by means of a stick.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the Sessions Court framed the charge mechanically which is erroneous, illegal, and against the weight of evidence on record. On the other hand, the counsel for the opposite party submitted that the court did not commit any error in taking cognizance of the offences and framing charge by the impugned order under Annexure-2 since the FIR and materials furnished along with the chargesheet do make out a case against the petitioner. The matter was therefore before the High Court.

The High Court observed, “Intention is a sine qua non for the alleged offence to have been committed. In other words, unless the required intention is found to exist with a purpose to insult and intimidate the victim the latter being a member of SC or ST, no offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the SC&ST (PoA) Act can be said to have been made out. … So having regard to the intent and purpose of the law in place meant to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of the marginalized sections of the society, any such offence committed by a person other than a SC or ST must have to have the requisite intention to insult and intimidate his counterpart for him to be from a backward class because of his caste. So it has to be held that all insults or intimidation do not make out an offence under the Act unless it is directed against the person on account of his caste.”

Accordingly, the Court partly allowed the petition and quashed the order of the Sessions Judge to a certain extent with respect to the offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the Act.

Cause Title- Surendra Kumar Mishra v. State of Orissa and Another

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