New Delhi: The Supreme Court has maintained that an insulting remarks made to a person belonging to Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes within four walls of the house with no witnesses does not amount to offence. The observation was made as it quashed the charges under the SC/ST Act against a man who had allegedly abused a woman within her building. Also Read - Strict COVID-19 Rules on Card as Supreme Court Asks Centre to Take The Lead Amid Sudden Spurt in COVID Cases

The bench went on to emphasise that the object of the Act is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as they are denied a number of civil rights. Also Read - Arnab Goswami’s Plea Against Privilege Notice Adjourned for Two weeks by SC

“All insults or intimidations to a person will not be an offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe,” said a bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi. Also Read - COVID Situation May Worsen by Next Month: SC Asks 4 States to Submit Status Report Within Two Days

“Thus, an offence under the Act would be made out when a member of the vulnerable section of the society is subjected to indignities, humiliations and harassment,” added the bench.

The judgment came on an appeal against an Uttarakhand High Court order, which dismissed a plea filed by one Hitesh Verma under Section 482 of the CrPC seeking quashing of a chargesheet and summoning order against him for an offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the SC/ST Act. An FIR was filed against him for entering the house of the respondent and hurling casteist abuses.

The bench noted that as per the FIR, the allegations of abuse were within the four walls of the building and there was no member of the public (not merely relatives or friends) at the time of the incident in the house.

“Therefore, the basic ingredient that the words were uttered ‘in any place within public view’ is not made out,” said the top court.

The top court quashed the chargesheet to the extent of offence under the special law against petitioner Hemant Verma and others.

(With agency inputs)