Dr Khushalchand Baheti
Aurangabad, April 13: The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act will not be attracted automatically because the victim in the offense belongs to SC/ST category. For this, offence has to be committed on account of the victim being a member of SC/ST community, a Supreme Court (SC) bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah reiterated, recently.
The SC was considering an appeal filed by an accused person tried for the offences punishable under Section 376(1) of the IPC and under Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. On March 31, 2011 at 9.30 am, the accused had raped a 20 years old blind girl, belonging to the SC community. The trial court convicted him. The accused was sentenced to life imprisonment and fine of Rs 1,000 was imposed on him under Section 376(1) of the IPC. He was also concurrently sentenced to undergo life imprisonment and asked to pay fine of Rs 1,000 for the offence punishable under Section 3(2)(v) of the Atrocities Act. In August 2019, the Andhra Pradesh High Court dismissed his appeal and confirmed the conviction and the sentence by the trial court.
In appeal, the SC observed that there was no evidence to show that the offence was committed only on the ground that the victim was a member of the SC community. The SC held that the conviction of the accused under Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is not sustainable. However, the SC confirmed that offence of rape was proved. The SC observed that the victim girl was blind by birth. The accused, being her neighbour, was aware of this fact. He went to her house and asked her mother where she was and then committed the rape. So, the SC made it clear that it won’t take a lenient view in deciding quantum of sentence to be awarded in the offence of rape.
FIR must mention offence
committed on caste ground
It must be alleged in the FIR that the victim belonged to the SC or ST communities and that was why the rape was committed! Only then is 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act will be attracted. It will not be attracted automatically because the victim belongs to SC or ST communities.
(Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah)
Supreme Court of India