Title: Bhuta Ram vs. State of Rajasthan
Date of Decision: August 3, 2023
Case ID: S.B. Criminal Appeal No. 1482/2023
Presiding Judge: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Farjand Ali
The case of Bhuta Ram vs. State of Rajasthan revolves around the appellant challenging an order passed by the learned Special Judge, SC/ST Act, Barmer, Rajasthan. The order in question, dated July 5, 2023, rejected the final report submitted by the Police Station Chohtan (PS Chohtan) and accepted the protest petition filed by the respondent No. 2, Smt. Singari Devi. Cognizance was taken against the appellant for offenses under Sections 341 & 323 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 3(1)(r)(s) & Section 3(2)(va) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The complainant in this case, respondent No. 2, along with her husband Raimal Ram, visited the Police Station Chohtan to inquire about a complaint sent by the Collector to the police station on May 28, 2022. During their visit, Bhuta Ram, the appellant, who was the then Station House Officer (SHO) of PS Chohtan, reacted angrily and rudely to their inquiries. He allegedly used offensive language and began physically assaulting Raimal Ram when the latter identified himself as a retired army officer and asked Bhuta Ram not to use inappropriate words.
When Smt. Singari Devi attempted to intervene and defuse the situation, the appellant allegedly pushed her to the floor, causing her distress and disarray of her clothing. Dissatisfied with the police’s response to her complaints, the complainant submitted a report about the incident to the Superintendent of Police, Barmer, on June 13, 2022, and requested a medical examination for herself and her husband on June 16, 2022. However, no action was taken on these complaints.
However, the complainant, Smt. Singari Devi, was dissatisfied with the investigation’s outcome and filed a protest petition before the Special Judge. She also had herself and her husband medically examined under Sections 200-202 CrPC. The trial court did not accept the negative final report and instead took cognizance of offenses under Sections 341 & 323 IPC and Section 3(1)(r), 3(1)(s), and 3(2)(va) of the SC/ST Act against the appellant, issuing process against him on July 5, 2023.
The appellant, Bhuta Ram, challenged the order taking cognizance before the High Court. The key legal issue was whether the trial court had the authority to take cognizance and proceed with the case despite the submission of a negative final report by the investigating agency, PS Chohtan.
The Court held that the trial court had correctly exercised its discretion in taking cognizance of the offenses against the appellant. It noted that the trial court had considered the contents of the police report, as well as other material and evidence available, and had sufficiently applied its judicial mind before issuing the order taking cognizance. Furthermore, it emphasized the sociological perspective, highlighting the gravity of the alleged misconduct by the appellant, who was entrusted with maintaining law and order.
The Court dismissed the appellant’s appeal, affirming the trial court’s order taking cognizance. It clarified that the appellant could raise his objections during the trial court proceedings at an appropriate stage.
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Written by Yagya Agarwal