If not victim, can’t file case under SC/ST Act sans legal opinion: Punjab and Haryana High Court

Says activists misusing law | Directs DGP to issue instructions to SSPs

If not victim, can’t file case under SC/ST Act sans legal opinion: Punjab and Haryana High Court

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12

In a significant judgment that will change the way the provisions of the SC/ST Act are misused by self-styled social activists, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today made mandatory the opinion of District Attorney (Legal) before registering cases at the instance of a third party.

Elderly couple gets anticipatory bail

  • A Jalandhar couple, who filed an anticipatory bail plea, has been accused of using derogatory words against their would-be daughter-in-law’s SC/ST community prior to their son’s marriage
  • They say they had disowned their son much before his marriage as he used to maltreat them and to oust them from the house, he uploaded an audio on social media after which three ‘social activists’ registered an FIR against them on Sept 7

It means that an FIR cannot be lodged by a third party, who is not the "victim", without obtaining legal opinion. Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan also directed the Punjab DGP to issue necessary instructions in this regard.

"Considering the fact that so-called social activists are misusing the provisions of the SC&ST Act, the DGP is directed to issue instructions to all SSPs in the districts that no FIR under the Act be registered at the instance of a third party, unless an opinion is sought from the District Attorney (Legal) that the complainant falls within the definition of victim," Justice Sangwan ruled.

The matter was placed before Justice Sangwan's Bench after a senior citizen couple filed an anticipatory bail plea in an FIR registered on September 7 under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act at the Rama Mandi police station in Jalandhar district.

Justice Sangwan's Bench told that the petitioners' dispute was with their son, married to a girl belonging to SC/ST caste. Prior to his marriage, there was some private conversation between the petitioners on one side and their son and the would-be bride on the other. It was alleged that the petitioners used derogatory words against the would-be bride's community.

The petitioners' counsel submitted they had disowned their son much prior to his marriage as he used to maltreat them. In a ploy to oust them from the house, the son uploaded the audio recording on his social media profile and three persons, claiming to be social activists in Jalandhar, got the FIR registered.

Justice Sangwan asserted the petitioners were senior citizens without criminal antecedents. Admittedly, there was a property dispute between the petitioners on one side, and the son on the other. The FIR was registered by three persons, who were not "victims" in accordance with the provisions of the SC&ST Act and there was clear misuse of law.

The bride had not lodged complaint against her parents-in-law, indicating that she was hopeful of getting things resolved. "Finding that none of the complainant has any locus standi to register the present FIR, the present petition is allowed and the petitioners are directed to be released on anticipatory bail on furnishing bail/surety bonds," Justice Sangwan added.

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