SC/ST cases can be quashed if 'civil' offences: SC
On Monday,the supreme court ruled that its innate powers under Article 142 of the Constitution or that of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure can be cited to quash proceedings under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989.
Where it appears to the court that the offence in question, although covered under the SC/ST Act, is primarily private or civil in nature, or where the alleged offence has not been committed on basis of the caste of the victim, or where the continuation of the legal proceedings would be an abuse of the process of law, the court can exercise its powers to revoke the proceedings, said a Bench of Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
It said that in case of a prayer for reversing, on the ground that the parties have settled their differences, if the court is contended that the underlying objective of the Act would not be contravened or diminished even if the accused in question goes unpunished, the only fact that the offence is covered under a ‘special statute’ would not stop it or the HC from exercising their respective powers under Article 142 of the Constitution or Section 482 CrPC.
The Bench said this while revoking a case against a resident of Madhya Pradesh, who was convicted for using casteist slurs against his neighbour — a Scheduled Caste woman — with whom he had a property dispute. While a trial court had convicted the man, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had upheld the order.
The Bench said the appellant and the complainant are residents of the same village and live in close proximity to each other. We have no reason to suspect that the parties themselves have voluntarily settled their differences. Therefore, in order to protect the revival of healed wounds, and to advance peace and harmony, it will be wise to effectuate the present settlement.