It is not necessary to hear the complainant/victim during bail hearing for a bailable offence under the SC/ST Act. It was however clarified that before the court decided to decline such opportunity of hearing to the victim, it should verify that the allegation against the accused disclose commission of bailable offence only held at the Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat by Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J.B. Pardiwala in Hemal Ashwin Jain (Sheth) versus Union of India [R/SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 6369 of 2020]
The fact relate to this writ petition is: considering a writ to declare S. 15A (3) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to be in violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The questions framed by the bench were as follows –
- Whether Section 15A (3) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 (1 of 2016) is ultra vires Articles 14 and 21 respectively of the Constitution of India being manifestly arbitrary?
- Whether Section 15A (3) of the Amendment Act, 2015, is mandatory or directory?
- Whether Section 15A (3) of the Amendment Act, 2015, imposes any restrictions upon the competent court while considering the plea of bail in connection with the offences under the Atrocities Act
- In other words, whether Section 15A(3) of the Amendment Act could be said to be, in any manner, placing unreasonable restrictions when it comes to exercising discretion in favour of an accused while considering the plea of bail ?”
While examining the above questions of law the Hon’ble Court observed that “Section 15A (3) could be said to have been introduced with a definite object and the object is to prevent atrocities upon the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Just because a provision of law in the Amendment Act enables the victim to appear before the competent court at all the stages of the proceedings by itself does not render the same arbitrary. We are saying so, because the impugned provision is not laying any fetters or unreasonable restrictions upon the court when it comes to exercising discretion as regards the grant of bail, etc.”
It was further held by the Hon’ble court that Section 15A (3) of the Amendment Act is mandatory and not a directory and that Section 15A (3) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 (1 of 2016) is not ultra vires Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The Hon’ble court expounded that “When a person is accused of committing only bailable offence or offences under the Act, it is not mandatory to grant opportunity of hearing to the victim or the dependent as provided under Section 15A(5) of the Act in a proceeding relating to granting bail to such accused. However, before the court decides to decline such opportunity to the victim or the dependent, the court shall thoroughly verify and ascertain that the allegations against the accused disclose commission of only bailable offence or offences under the Act, by him”
After considering the above points in view of the aforesaid discussion, this writ-application fails and is hereby rejected.
Judgement reviewed By:Sarita Kumari