Mere utterance of any word on the caste of complainant is not sufficient to prove the offence under Section 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and something more is necessary and in that case this Court has observed that the offence in question taking place inside the house and that offence being not in public view.


CASE BRIEF: Gopal S/o Sukhdeorao Raut V/s State of Maharashtra


CASE NAME: Gopal S/o Sukhdeorao Raut V/s State of Maharashtra

CITATION: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 305 OF 2008

COURT:THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

BENCH:MRS. SWAPNA JOSHI, J.

DECIDED ON: 05th March, 2020.

RELEVENT STATUTES: Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Indian Penal Code, 1860


BRIEF FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

1. The complainant PW1-Ambadas Haribhau Lokhande was Sarpanch of Village Sawarkhed. On 05.12.2006, the work of tree plantation through the Gram Panchayat was going on by the side of the road in Sawarkhed Village. The labourers PW2- Dilip Dayaram Lokhande and PW3-Bharat Ambadas Lokhande were present at that place.

2. The said tree plantation was going on near the Hanuman Temple. At about 1.00 O’clock in the noon the accused-Gopal Sukhdeo Raut by caste ‘Mali’ came at that place and said to the complainant PW1-Ambadas Lokhande,“O Mangtya do not plant tree here” .

3. The complainant PW1-Ambadas Lokhande requested that not to abuse him andasked him to go away from that place and allow them to work. On this, the accused lifted a pick-axe lying nearby and rushed towards the complainant PW1-Ambadas Lokhande to assault him. He was in inebriated condition.

4. PW2-Dilip Lokhande and PW3-Bharat Lokhande were working under complainant PW1- Ambadas Lokhande convinced the accused, but the accused said to the complainant PW1-Ambadas Lokhande that, “The Government does not change the roster. I myself shall change the roster by killing you within 12 hours.” The accused further in insulting manner said to the complainant PW1-Ambadas Lokhande that, “This Government by way of giving reservation to the Scheduled Castes, has brought the time to put the shoes from the feet on the head.” Then, the complainant PW1- Ambadas Lokhande proceeded to the Police Station to lodge his complaint vide Exh.27.

5. On the basis of the said complaint, PW7-DY.S.P Avinash Ambhore registered the offence vide Crime No.3087/2006 at Police Station against the accused. On 06.12.2006, PW5-DY.S.P. Prabhakar Satam visited the place of incident and prepared spot panchnama (Exh.33). He then recorded the statement of witnesses. After completing the formal investigation, charge-sheet came to be filed in the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class and the case was committed to the Court of Sessions. The learned trial Judge after recording the evidence and hearing both the sides convicted the accused, as aforesaid.


ISSUES:

1. Whether the appellant (thereby referred to as “the accused’) was rightly convicted for the offence punishable under Section 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act and for the offence punishable under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code in Sessions Trial No. 30/2007 ?


RATIO OF THE COURT:

1. The learned Advocate Shri V.N. Vyas on behalf of the accused, vehemently argued the following:

a. The object of the Protection of Civil Rights Act states that under Article 17 of the Constitution of India, “Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. It is submitted that when the accused was acquitted of the provision of 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 then, he could not be convicted under the provision of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

b. That there is no corroboration to the version of PW1 Ambadas Lokhande with regard to the allegations of untouchability, as such. No independent witness has been examined in that regard to substantiate the case of the complainant PW1-Ambadas Lokhande. It was also submitted that although the Police Station was at a distance of 5 to 6 Km, still there is a delay of 6 hours in lodging the First Information Report

2. In the case of Dr. Narendra Bhojram Patil Vs. State of Maharashtra, reported in 2010 Cri.L.J. 2762, it is held that mere utterance of any word on the caste of complainant is not sufficient to prove the offence under Section 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and something more is necessary and in that case this Court has observed that the offence in question taking place inside the house and that offence being not in public view.

3. In the instant case, the accused has allegedly used the word “Mangtya”. Mere utterance of the word “Mangtya” on the caste of complainant is not sufficient and something more is necessary to attract the provision of 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

4. In view thereof, there is no proof that the words were encouraging the audience to practice untouchability or the accused himself was practicing untouchability.

5. Also, the court observed that the third utterance i.e. “The Government has given reservation to the Scheduled Caste and compelled to take footwear on head” , as is not supported by the testimony of PW2-Dilip Lokhande and PW3-Bharat Lokhande, and as, it is proved that it was not within a public view, there is no question of using those words encouraging audience to practice untouchability or the accused himself practicing untouchability.

6.  Further, it is the matter of fact that there was no audience at the place of incident, there is no question of utterances being audible to anyone. So also, since, there is no corroboration to the testimony of PW1-Ambadas Lokhande and the oral report (Exh.27) was lodged by the complainant PW1-Ambadas Lokhande about six and half hours after the incident, itself creates a serious doubt about the occurrence of the incident.

7. In the case of Dnyanoba s/o. Annasaheb Kale Vs. State of Maharashtra, reported in 2006 ALL MR(Cri) 1070, it is held that if the version of complainant is vague and cryptic and is not supported by oral, documentary or circumstantial evidence, the entire case of prosecution is suspicious and no reason for not accepting the defence taken by the accused and in that case the accused is entitled for benefit of doubt.

8. Thus, the entire case of the prosecution comes under the shadow of doubt. More particularly, when no independent witnesses were examined and only the relation witnesses were examined, who are interested in the outcome of the case, as the accused had political rivalry with the complainant PW1- Ambadas Lokhande, and PW2-Dilip Lokhande and PW3-Bharat Lokhande are the relatives of PW1-Ambadas Lokhande.


DECISION HELD:

The hon’ble High Court held the following:

1.  Criminal Appeal No. 305/2008 is allowed.

2.  The impugned judgment and order dated 07.05.2008 delivered by the learned Adhoc Additional Sessions Judge-1, Akola in Sessions Trial No. 30/2007 for the offence punishable under Section 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and for the offence punishable under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, is

hereby quashed and set aside.

3.  The appellant-accused is acquitted of the offence punishable under Section 7(1)(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and also of the offence punishable under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

4. The bail bonds of the accused shall stand cancelled.

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