Skip to main content

Supreme Court bench relied on "Gujarat model" while delivering controversial SC-ST blackmail ruling of March 20

A Maharashtra rally on April 2 opposing "blackmail" order
By Rajiv Shah
Was the Supreme Court bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit guided by what many consider the "much-hyped" Gujarat model while delivering its controversial judgment of March 20, which ruled that innocent citizens were being blackmailed under provisions of the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (POA Act)?
A closer look at the Supreme Court judgment reveals that of the five High Court judgments quoted by the bench for insisting upon its blackmail argument, three were delivered by the Gujarat High Court. The other two were delivered by the Madras High Court and the Bombay High Court.
Bringing this to light, Gujarat’s well-known Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan says, what is especially strange is, the Supreme Court did not even consider the fact that only 2.33% of India’s SC population lives in Gujarat.
Suggesting that “while Gujarat has 8.5% of India’s ST population, too, the blackmail claim is particularly directed at SCs”, Macwan says, “Gujarat being quoted maximum, High Court observations for misuse of the Act seems to have become a model for the contention on the misuse of the anti-atrocities Act.”
Wondering “what about 97% of SCs and 91.5% of STs who live in the rest of India”, Macwan insists, “Gujarat does not fall in the list first five states where maximum atrocities are recorded.”
The first Gujarat High Court judgment that the apex court uses is Dr NT Desai vs State of Gujarat of 1997. The judgment says talks of a “scheming, unscrupulous complainants”, who get arrested accused “on some false allegations of having committed non-bailable offence under the Atrocity Act.”
The second Gujarat High Court judgment, quoted by the apex court, is the Dhiren Prafulbhai Shah vs State of Gujarat of 2016. Delivering the judgment, the judge observes, “In the course of my present sitting, I have come across various cases wherein the provisions of Atrocities Act are misused.”
Martin Macwan
The judge continues, “I find that various complaints are filed immediately after elections, be it Panchayat, Municipal or Corporation, alleging offence under the Atrocities Act”, leading to the conclusion, “I have no hesitation in saying that, in most of the cases, it was found that the FIR.s/complaints were filed only to settle the score with their opponents after defeat in the elections.”
It elaborates, “I have also come across various cases, wherein, private civil disputes arising out of property, monetary matters, dispute between an employee and employer, dispute between the subordinate and his superior are given penal and the complaints are being filed either under Section 190 r/w. 200 or FIRs at the police station”, adding, “The matter in hand is one another example of misuse of the Act…” 
The judge observes, “An Act enacted for laudable purpose can also become unreasonable, when it is exercised over-zealously by the enforcing authorities for extraneous reasons. It is for the authorities to guard against such misuse of power conferred on them.”
Especially taking exception to Section 18 of the POA, it says, the law “imposes a bar so far as the grant of anticipatory bail is concerned if the offence is one under the Atrocities Act”, even though, “a person is accused having committed murder, dacoity, rape, etc. can pray for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the CrPC on the ground that he is innocent…”
The third Gujarat High Court judgment the apex court quotes is Pankaj D Suthar vs State of Gujarat of 1992, which wonders “whether any statute like the present Atrocities Act, especially enacted for the purposes of protecting weaker sections of the society hailing from SC and ST communities can be permitted to be abused by conveniently converting the same into a weapon of wrecking personal vengeance on the opponents?”
The judgment says, “The answer to this question is undoubtedly and obviously No”, adding Section 18 of the Atrocities Act quite cannot be followed “mechanically and blindly, merely guided by some general and popular prejudices based on some words and tricky accusations”.
If this happens, the judgment underlines, “Then it would be simply unwittingly and credulously playing in the hands of some scheming unscrupulous complainant in denying the justice.”

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

Proposed expansion of Karnataka N-plant "ignores" worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima

Counterview Desk
EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India (GoI), in a letter addressed to secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, with copies to chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and chairman Karnataka Pollution Control Board, has said that radiation and environmental risks have been ignored in DAE’s proposal to set up Units 5 & 6 (2X700MWe) at Kaiga Nuclear Power Station in Karnataka.

80% school children are beaten up, 91% parents "approve" of it: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent report, prepared by researchers with the civil rights group, Agrasar, has revealed that of the 521 children from marginalized groups surveyed in Gurugram, Haryana, 80% said they are punished at school. Based on data collected from semi-urban communities in Gurugram, the report’s conclusions also take into account survey 100 parents, personal interviews with 26 children, three focus group discussions and one seasonal calendar exercise with 29 parents.

Forced child labour rampant in Uttar Pradesh sugarcane fields: Oxfam study

By Rajiv Shah
A 14-year-old boy and his older brother were hired by an agent from Bihar under the pretext of getting them a job in a shoe factory in Uttar Pradesh. The agent brought with him a dozen-odd to Uttar Pradesh under the pretext of offering work to them in a factory. Only upon arrival in Muzaffarnagar, the boys were told that they would be working in a sugarcane field.