LUCKNOW: In a major observation, the Allahabad High Court has made public view mandatory for an offence to be qualified and tried under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The court said that for constituting an offence under this act and summoning the culprit, public view was mandatory.
The court also made it clear that if the offence was allegedly committed behind closed doors -- where no witness was present -- the SC/ST Act could not be applied. The ruling was given by Justice RK Gautam while quoting a Supreme Court ruling and hearing a petition filed by a Sonbhadra resident KP Thakur against the order of Duddhi judicial magistrate.
The petitioner was the probe officer in a departmental inquiry against one Vinod Kumar Tanay. According to the petition, Thakur had called Tanay to his chamber for the recording of evidence on the day of incidence. The latter had brought along a colleague MP Tiwari. However, Thakur asked Tiwari to go out of his chamber as it would have hindered the process of recording the evidence and statement, said the petition.
Following this, Tanay moved a petition before the judicial magistrate against Thakur under the SC/ST Act and other sections of Indian Penal Code. After the court summoned Thakur, he challenged the order in High Court.
While partly allowing the petition filed by Thakur, the court observed: “The door was locked from inside. It was a chamber of the enquiry officer (Thakur), where presenting officer (Tanay) and enquiry officer were present and it can never be said to be a public view. Even if any occurrence took place at that place, it may never be said to be a public view and it has been verified by the apex court. Hence, the very ingredient of offence punishable under Section 3(1) (X) of the SC/ST Act was missing”.
The court quashed the summoning for an offence punishable under the SC/ST Act. However, the judge made it clear that for rest of the offences, no relief was given to the petitioner.
The case was sent back to the Duddhi judicial magistrate to be tried under Sections 323 (simple hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the complainant under Indian Penal Code.