SCST Act cannot be invoked when the abuse has taken place within four walls : Karnataka High Court

An independent evidence must exist, apart from the oral statements of the victim, in order to convict an accused. The High Court bench consisting of J. H P Sandesh, adjudicated on the matter of State of Karnataka by Whitefield Police Station Bengaluru v. Christopher Ireland & Ors. [Criminal Appeal No. 173/2011], wherein the accused were charged under the provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The complainant was assaulted by the accused who belonged to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe. They tore the clothes of the complainant, pushed and pulled her and outraged her modesty and intentionally insulter her referring to her caste and humiliating her publicly. The accused together hence committed various offences punishable under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The accused claimed trial before the Trial Court and did not plead guilty. The Trial Judge acquitted the accused and hence, the present appeal was filed by the aggrieved appellant. The Prosecution argued that the Trial Court Judge had committed an error as he had failed to consider the evidence put forth. The accused were the family members of the victim’s husband and they had intentionally trespassed into the house of the complainant and abused her. The counsel appearing for the respondent argued that the Trial judge appreciated the contradictions in the cross examinations and realised the discrepancies between the medical evidence and the case of the prosecution, and hence, had rightly acquitted the accused.

The HC found that the claims of the victim that the accused had abused her taking her caste name was not reflected in her oral evidence or the complaint lodged. Further that the incident had taken place within four walls of the house and no public was present and hence, the provisions of SCST Act could not be invoked. The court also noticed that the only evidence present which could be relied upon was the statement of the victim which was not enough to convict the accused. The court held that “Taking into consideration of all these material contradictions and there is no any independent witness with regard to the incident, in order to convict the accused, there must be an independent evidence before the court and the prosecution has to prove the case with regard to the incident as well as the injuries, and hence, dismissed the appeal.

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