The Karnataka High Court has said that for offenses under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the launching of caste abuse must be done in a public place.
He quashed a pending case against a person because he concluded that the alleged abuse took place in a basement of an apartment building, where the victim and his colleagues were the only ones present.
In the alleged 2020 incident, Rithesh Pias committed caste abuse against Mohan in the basement of a building where he worked with the others. All workers were employed by building owner Jayakumar R Nair.
Judge M Nagaprasanna, in his June 10 verdict, noted: “Two factors will emerge from a reading of the above statements – one being that the basement of the building was not a place of public view and two , only those who claim to be were present the Complainants and other employees of Jayakumar R.Nair or friends of the Complainants.
“Launching abuse is clearly not in a public view or a public place for the law to be drawn into the case at hand,” the court said.
Furthermore, the court noted that there were other factors in the case. Defendant Rithesh Pias had a dispute with building owner Jayakumar R Nair and was granted a stay of execution against the construction of the building.
The court found that Nair shot Pias on “the shoulder of his employee (Johan)”. The court said the issue of the dispute between the two “cannot be dismissed as it demonstrates a clear link in the chain of events. Therefore, the recording of the crime itself suffers from a lack of good faith”. At the Mangaluru Sessional Court where the case was pending, in addition to the Atrocities Act, Pias was also charged under Section 323 (Willfully Causing Injury) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The High Court also dismissed the charges saying: “For an offense punishable under IPC Section 323 there should be prejudice caused in the quarrel.” However, in this case, “Mohan’s injury certificate shows a single scrape on the forearm and another scrape on the chest. The bleeding is not what is indicated. Therefore, simple scratches cannot not become an offense under Article 323 of the IPC”. said the judgement.
Quashing the case pending in the Magistrates Court, the High Court said: “In light of the facts cited above, where the basic elements of the offense are missing, then allow such proceedings to proceed and forcing the petitioner to face the hullabaloo of a criminal trial will be totally unjustified, leading to an abuse of the judicial process.”
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