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To be an offence under SC/ST Act, hurling casteist abuses must be in public place or in public view: Karnataka High Court

To be an offence under SC/ST Act, hurling casteist abuses must be in public place or in public view: Karnataka High Court

Written by Rhythm Agal

Casteist abuse is only punishable under the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 [SC/ST Act] in a public place or in public view, the Karnataka High Court ruled in the case, Rithesh Pais v. State of Karnataka & Another.According to Sections 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s) of the SC/ST Act, hurling abuses in a public place or in public view constitutes an offence.The court quashed a SC/ST Act case against Ritesh Pais for hurling casteist abuse at Mohan in a building’s basement.The petitioner challenged proceedings before the V Additional District & Sessions Judge, DK, Mangalore for IPC and SC/ST Act offences.The petitioner was accused of abusing the complainant in the building’s basement. Accusations include threatening the complainant and obstructing construction.All witnesses, including the complainant, were Jayakumar R Nair’s employees.The petitioner claimed he had previously sued Nair and an injunction was in effect.Nair set up his employee to file the case to settle with the petitioner, it was argued.The alleged casteist abuses allegedly occurred in a basement with no witnesses.The complainant’s attorney said the incident happened in front of witnesses.After examining the opposing arguments, the bench noted that the building’s basement was not open to the public and that the only people who claimed to be there were the complainant and Jayakumjar R Nair’s employees or friends.Therefore, hurling abuses was not in public view or a public place, the bench held.The Court relied on the Supreme Court’s judgement in Hitesh Verma v. State of Uttarakhand, in which the top court interpreted the same provisions invoked against the petitioner in the present case and explained the scope of ‘public place’ and ‘public view’The bench quashed the proceedings pending before the V Additional District and Session Judge and noted that allowing further proceedings would degenerate into harassment and miscarriage of justice.Respondents were represented by Ajay Prabhu, BS Sachin, and High Court Government Pleader KS Abhijit.

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