21 Jan 2121

The provisions of SC and ST Act, 1989 are attracted or not will ultimately depend upon the orders passed by the Screening Committee - Gauhati High Court

Case : Miss Divyana A. Lahan (Minor) And 2 Ors. V. Gaurav Upadhyay And 5 Ors. WA/190/2020

Court : Gauhati High Court

Bench : Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua

Decided on : 21 Jan 2121

The Relevant Statutes

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. The Caste Certificate (more precisely the ‘Tribal Certificate’) was cancelled by the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro) District by the order dated 22nd September 2020 without giving an opportunity of hearing to the victim.

2. This order was challenged before Guwahati High Court by the victim in a writ petition.

3. During the pendency of the writ petition, the concerned authority who had cancelled the certificate by the order dated 22nd September 2020 had withdrawn the said cancellation order and, thereafter, in terms of the direction given by the Honourable Apex Court in Kumari Madhuri Patil Vs. Additional Commissioner reported in AIR 1995 SC 94 had referred the matter to the Screening Committee appointed by the Government of Assam for such purposes.

4. The admitted position as of now is that the Caste Certificate (more precisely the ‘Tribal Certificate’) given to the victim by the appropriate authority is presently under consideration by the Screening Committee appointed by the Government of Assam.

5. Since the private respondent was facing an ongoing investigation and as the provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 Act was also added therein, he had filed a writ petition before Guwahati High Court where the learned Single Judge held that the respondents are hereby provided that until such time the question of the validity of the ST certificates is decided by the competent Committee, the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 shall not be applied in All Women Police Station Case No.5/2020.

6. The matter is still pending before the learned Single Judge and being aggrieved with the above interim order, this writ appeal has been filed.

6. This order shall, however, not come in the way of investigation in the aforesaid police case carried out by the law.

The Issue(s) of the Case:

Whether the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 are attracted?

The observation of the Court

1. The Honourable Gauhati High Court opined that discretion has already been exercised by the learned Single Judge in this matter,
presently the Honourable Gauhati High Court was not inclined to interfere with the same.

2. The Honourable Gauhati High Court observed that whether the provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 are attracted or not will ultimately depend upon the orders passed by the Screening Committee.

The Decision held by the Court

1. The Honourable Guwahati High court disposed of the writ appeal with the following directions.

2. The Screening Committee which is presently seized with this matter is hereby directed to decide the validity of the Caste Certificate (more precisely the ‘Tribal Certificate’) positively within 15(fifteen) days from the date of a certified copy of this order is placed before the Screening Committee.

3. Meanwhile, as the learned Single Judge has also rightly observed that the order dated 21.10.2020 will in no way come in the ongoing investigation that shall be followed, and the investigation shall continue.

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