Under the SC/ST Act, merely using a caste name without intending to offend is not a crime: Karnataka High Court

According to a recent ruling by the Karnataka High Court [Shailesh Kumar V v State], the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 (SC/ST Act), merely using a person’s caste name without intending to offend or degrade them would not constitute a crime under the SC/ST Act.
Single-judge Justice M. Nagaprasanna reviewed numerous decisions on the matter and noted that, Unless there is an intent to insult the victim’s caste member, simply using the victim’s caste name does not constitute an offence.
The Court stated, with reference to SC/ST Act Sections 3(1)(r) and (s), that the objective is the heart and soul of the legislation. Therefore, the intimidation must be intended to degrade a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, and the insult must be purposeful.

This news is written by Ms. Amrita Singh, Research Assistant, All India Legal Forum.

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