When Anticipatory Bail can be granted considering bar u/s 18 of SC/ST Act?

The Chhattisgarh High Court granted bail to a person and proceeded to set aside a rejection order on the grounds of patent illegality.

Background:

In the instant case, the applicant was apprehending arrest for an offence punishable u/s 294, 324, 506 of IPC r/w Section 3(2) of SC/ST Act. The applicant applied for anticipatory bail before the subordinate Court, but it was rejected due to the bar created u/s 18 of 1989 Act. The Court opined that as the allegations against the accused were under IPC and SC/ST Act, his application was not maintainable.

Aggrieved by the order described above, the applicant moved to the Chhattisgarh High Court.

Arguments Before the Court:-

Counsel for the applicant-accused argued that bar against entertaining bail applications submitted by persons accused under SC/ST Act could not be applied in this particular case as prima facie. No offence has been made out; therefore, the Court can grant anticipatory bail.

On the other hand, counsel representing the State contended that the accused and the prosecutrix were friends, and even though the accused knew that the prosecutrix belonged to a reserved category, he assaulted her when they were out for a drive. Therefore, prima facie a case under section 3(2)(v)(a) is made out and the bar against grant of pre-arrest bail as per Section 18 of SC/ST Act is applicable.

Observation and Order of the Court:-

Hon’ble Court relied on Prathvi Raj Chauhan vs Union of India and Khuman Singh vs State of Madhya Pradesh and observed that an offence u/s 3(2)(V)(a) of SC/ST Act would be prima facie made out only when allegation by the victim is that he/she was assaulted just because he/she belonged to a reserved category or during the investigation, it becomes clear that the assault took place because the victim belonged to a reserved category.

The Court held that even if an offence under the SC/ST Act is registered and the application of anticipatory is filed, the Court must apply its mind to relevant provisions and considerations specified by Supreme Court in Prathvi Raj Chauhan case. The Court should also consider the material on record, and if it suggests that the bar u/s 18 of SC/ST Act should not apply, then the Court can grant anticipatory bail.

Observing thus, the Court set aside the impugned order and allowed the appeal.

Case Details:-

Title: Pavas Sharma vs the State of Chattisgarh

Case No.: CRA No.: 806 of 2020

Date of Order: 22.01.2021

Coram: Hon’ble Justice Manindra Mohan Shrivastava

Click to Read/Download Judgment

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