Supreme Court Judgment- Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v The State of Maharashtra AIR 2018 SC 1498
The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as the atrocities act) is a special law that protects the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) from atrocities and provides for the trial of offenses and the rehabilitation of victims.
This law protects the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which are defined in Article 341 and 342 of the constitution of India respectively. This law protects the members of the SC/ST from non-members of SC/ST.
Any person convicted for the offences laid down in the act can be imprisoned for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine. The main intention of the legislature to provide security and protection to the people of the SC/ST from atrocities, however, over a period of time it was seen that the misuse of the atrocities act had started.
The facts of the case are that the Respondent who was a storekeeper in a government college filed a First Information Report (FIR) against his two seniors who had recorded adverse comments against him in the Annual Confidential Report. These two seniors did not belong to the SC/ST and it was alleged that they had deliberately done so due to caste dynamics.
When the police sought for sanction under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as the Cr.PC) against the two accused, the Director of Technical Education (Appellant herein) refused the sanction. As such the Respondent then filed a complaint against the Appellant on the grounds that the Director of Technical Education was not competent to grant/refuse sanction as the above two persons were Class-I officers and only the State Government could grant sanction.
Thus, a case was registered under sections 3(1)(ix), 3(2)(vi) and 3(2)(vii) of the atrocities act and Sections 182, 192, 193, 203 and 219 read with sec 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The appellant had filed an application for quashing of the complaint but the same was dismissed by the High Court.
The primary issue for consideration, in this case, was that whether any unilateral allegation of mala fide can be ground to prosecute officers who dealt with the matter in the official capacity and if such allegation is falsely made what is protection available against such abuse.
It was argued that in the present case, no offence was made out under Sections 3(1)(ix), 3(2)(vi) and 3(2) (vii) of the Atrocities Act and Sections 182, 192, 193, 203 and 219 of the IPC and thus the High Court should have quashed the proceedings.
It was pointed out that the FIR was lodged after five years of the order passed by the appellant and thus even if the order passed by the appellant was erroneous, the proceedings in the present form could not have been made.
It was argued that the offences under the atrocities act depend solely upon the version of the complainant which may not be found to be true and there may not be any other tangible material. Thus Jeopardising liberty of a person on an untried unilateral version, without any verification or tangible material, is against the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
It was argued that in the absence of tangible material to support a version, to prevent exercise of arbitrary power of arrest, a preliminary enquiry may be made mandatory and reasons should be required to be recorded that information was credible and arrest was necessary.
It was argued that where the law is clear no guidelines should be issued by the Court and there is no reason to go into the issue of the validity of provisions of the Atrocities Act.
After placing reliance on certain case laws it was argued that there is scope of anticipatory bail if no prima facie case is made out under the Atrocities Act. Thus, in genuine cases anticipatory bail can be granted.
It was pointed out that the Government of India had issued advisories on 03.02.2005, 01.04.2010 and 23.05.2016 and also amendments were made to the Atrocities Act in 2016 which provides for the creation of Special Courts as well as Exclusive Special Courts.
After going through the arguments, submissions and the suggestions it was held that in the absence of any other independent offence calling for the arrest, in respect of offenses under the Atrocities Act, no arrest may be done, if an accused person is a public servant, without the written permission of the appointing authority.
It was further held that if such a person is not a public servant, then no arrest can be made without the written permission of the Senior Superintendent of Police of the District. It was held that the permissions must be granted reasons must be recorded for the same and they must be served on the person to be arrested and to the concerned court.
It was directed that when a person who is arrested is produced before the Magistrate, the Magistrate must apply his mind to the reasons which have been recorded and further detention should be allowed only if the reasons that have been recorded are found to be valid.
It was held that in order to avoid false implication before an FIR is registered, a preliminary inquiry may be made as to whether the case falls in the parameters of the Atrocities Act or not. The sole purpose of doing so is to see that the allegations are not frivolous or ill-motivated.
Thus the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the proceedings in the instant case were liable to be quashed since there was no merit in the complaint against the appellant.