SC/ST Act canít be invoked if victim not abused in public, says city court

A city court has dismissed charges under the SC/ST Act against three members of a family, who have been accused of making casteist remarks and assaulting a man in November last year.

The court said a person cannot be prosecuted for hurling casteist abuses at somebody from the scheduled caste or tribe unless it is proved that the incident took place in "full public view".

It was alleged that three persons insulted and assaulted Vinod Kumar near a temple in Sindhu village, Northwest Delhi, in November last year.

The prosecution alleged that Ramesh Chand and and his son Sunil Dutt were in a Honda City parked near their house on November 25, 2011, and had assaulted Kumar when he asked them to move the car.

The two men were allegedly drunk and repeatedly made derogatory caste-based remarks against him.

Kumar said in his complaint that Ramesh hit him with a brick, while his son held him. Soon after, Ramesh's wife, Chameli Devi, allegedly joined them and she, too, hurled abuses at him.

She exhorted her husband and son to beat him as he was of a lower caste, the prosecution said.

Additional Sessions Judge Rajnish Bhatnagar dismissed the charges on the ground that "when the incident took place, only the complainant and the accused were present at the spot and what transpired between them has not taken place in full public view".

The court took note of the the Assistant Commissioner of Police's report, which states that the allegations regarding caste-based derogatory remarks look baseless and self-motivated.

"There is nothing in the statement of the complainant that he was abused in the name of caste in full public view or that the incident took place in public," the court said.

The court directed the trial court of the Metropolitan Magistrate to try the three accused on charges of "wrongfully restraining and causing hurt to the victim".

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