Provision of Schedule Caste and the Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 cannot be misused - Supreme Court

28 Mar 2018

Introduction Recently, in the Judgment of Dr. Subhash K Maha fan V/s State of Maharastra and Anr.[1] Hon'ble Supreme Court of India observed that provisions under Prevention of Atrocities Act were being misused and the fraudulent, malafide complaints under the same especially against the public servants increased and therefore, the apex Court provided with certain guidelines as to minimize the abuse of the provision of the Act in this judgment.

The facts of the case were, appellant in the present appeal was serving as Director of Technical Education in the State of Maharashtra who was original accused and was alleged to have done the offences punishable under Section 3(1) (ix), 3(2)(vi), 3(2)(vii) of SC, ST POA Act, 1989 and Sec.182,192,193,203, and 219 r/w 34 of IPC. The complainant, herein respondent was an employee of the department, earlier he was employed as a Store Keeper in the Govt. College of Pharmacy, Karad, later he was posted at Government Distance Education Institution, Pune. It was say of the complainant that Dr. Satish Bhise and Dr. Kishore Burade who were the seniors, made adverse entry in his annual confidential report to effect that his integrity and character was not good. Thereafter, FIR was lodged under Atrocities Act and the investigating officer applied for sanction under 197 Cr.PC. to Director of Technical Education and the same was refused. It was also the say of the complainant that the Director of Technical Education was not competent to grant/refuse sanction as the above two persons are Class-I officers and only the State Govt. could grant sanction.


The appellant applied for quashing the proceedings on the grounds that a mere bonafide order in the official capacity cannot amount to such offence, even if the order was erroneous.

The matter finally arrived to Supreme Court and the question was "whether there can be procedural safeguards so that provisions of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (SC/ST) Act 1989 are not abused for extraneous considerations"

The apex Court, observed that:

"We direct that in absence of any other independent offence calling for arrest, in respect of offences under the Atrocities Act, no arrest may be effected, if an accused person is a public servant, without written permission of the appointing authority and if such a person is not a public servant, without written permission of the Senior Superintendent of Police of the District. Such permissions must be granted for recorded reasons which must be served on the person to be arrested and to the concerned court. As and when a person arrested is produced before the Magistrate, the Magistrate must apply his mind to the reasons recorded and further detention should be allowed only if the reasons recorded are found to be valid. To avoid false implication, before FIR is registered, preliminary enquiry may be made whether the case falls in the parameters of the Atrocities Act and is not frivolous or motivated"

The Court issued following directions

1.There is no absolute bar against grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Atrocities Act if no prima facie case is made out or where on judicial scrutiny the complaint is found to be prima facie mala fide

2. In view of acknowledged abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Atrocities Act, arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval by the S.S.P. which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded. Such reasons must be scrutinized by the Magistrate for permitting further detention.

3. To avoid false implication of an innocent, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous or motivated.

4. Any violation of direction (2) and (3) will be actionable by way of disciplinary action as well as contempt

Moreover, the Bench has directed that a Government official cannot be prosecuted on mere allegation of committing an offence under the Act without the sanction of appointing authority. The bench has issued the directions in the appeal filed by Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan against the Bombay High Court judgment refusing to quash the FIR lodged against him for offences alleged under the Act. It was further observed by the Court that: "If the allegation is to be acted upon, the proceedings can result in arrest or prosecution of the person and have serious consequences on his right to liberty even on a false complaint which may not be intended by law meant for protection of a bona fide victim."

Thus, the Court also examined whether the above procedure will be just and fair under Article 21 of the Constitution of India or there can be procedural safeguards so that provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 are not abused for extraneous considerations.

Therefore, with the above findings, proceedings against the appellant were quashed.


[1] 2018 5CC OnLine SC 243

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