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In digital age, online abuse will attract SC/ST Act; physical presence of victim not necessary: Kerala HC


Sooraj v. Sukumar v. State of Kerala

The court rejected the bail of a youtuber for insulting a ST woman while interview on social media.

Since the victim was of SC/ST caste, it attracts the provision of SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The court opined that a victim who views the abusive or insulting content as many times in digital presence it is considered that each time while accessing she’s present directly or constructively as per S. 3(1)(r) & S. 3(1)(s).

The aggrieved women filed sexual assault complaint against the media person. The accused applied for a pre-arrest bail by the Managing Director of “True TV” news channel.

The petitioner conducted an interview of the victim’s husband and father-in-law which was uploaded on YouTube insulting and producing hatred for the ST community.

As per S. 3(1)(r) & S. 3(1)(s) there are certain essential conditions to be consider such offence:

  1. The accused should not belong to SC/ST
  2. Presence of intention to humiliate particular caste/ community
  3. Act committed should lie between public view

Therefore the court found no provision which attracts the above section and rejected the petitioner bail application.

Since it’s a digital era, referring to E. Krishnan Narayanar’s case the court stated that the presence of a person includes online or digital presence as well and the interpretations of the act will not be applicable to the changing circumstances.

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