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News : Supreme Court Reminds Police to Exercise Caution in Applying Stringent Laws like SC/ST Act.(Prevention of Atrocities)

  • The Supreme Court has issued a reminder to police officers regarding their responsibility to carefully consider the application of stringent laws, such as the SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, before invoking its provisions.
  • The court emphasized the need for officers to ensure that the provisions of the law genuinely apply to the specific case under consideration. However, the court clarified that this reminder does not intend to dilute the effectiveness of such laws but merely serves as a caution against their mechanical application without proper assessment of the factual circumstances.
  • A bench comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Ahsanuddin Amanullah made the following observation: “The officers responsible for filing a First Information Report (FIR) based on a complaint have a duty to exercise vigilance before invoking any provision of a stringent statute like the SC/ST Act, which imposes severe penalties on the accused.
  • The officer must be satisfied that the provisions being invoked are applicable to the case at hand.
  • We want to clarify that our remarks are not intended to weaken the application of special or stringent statutes but only serve as a reminder to the police not to mechanically apply the law without considering the factual circumstances.”
  • The case that prompted this reminder involved an appeal filed by the managing director of a construction company challenging an FIR registered against him under the SC-ST Act.
  • The Supreme Court deemed the FIR to be frivolous, vexatious, and oppressive.
  • The court observed that the underlying dispute in the FIR was essentially a civil matter and seemed to be motivated by malice, as it was raised only after the land in question had been developed and sold to other buyers.
  • The court’s ruling stated: “It is evident from previous case-law that the Supreme Court has consistently intervened in cases where purely civil disputes, usually related to land or money, were falsely presented as criminal offenses to exert undue pressure on the concerned party.
  • This, we reiterate, is an abuse of the court’s process.
  • In the present case, there is an unexplained delay of over 60 years in initiating a dispute over land ownership, and the criminal case was lodged only after the failure to obtain relief in civil suits.
  • It is apparent that the criminal proceedings are driven by ulterior motives, for improper reasons, and are a clear act of vengeance.”
  • The court also noted that even if the allegations in the FIR were accepted at face value, it was not discernible that any offense under the SC-ST Act had been committed by the appellant.
  • Therefore, the court deemed the complaint and FIR to be frivolous, vexatious, and oppressive.
  • Quashes FIR

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