Justice Katju held that offending words to a member of SC/ST, are liable under the Act, only if made in any place in public view, but not otherwise. A big relief for those facing false cases.
From Paras 27 and 28,
27. Learned counsel then contended that the alleged act was not committed in a public place and hence does not come within the purview of section 3(1)(x) of the Act. In this connection it may be noted that the aforesaid provision does not use the expression ‘public place’, but instead the expression used is ‘in any place within public view’. In our opinion there is a clear distinction between the two expressions.
28. It has been alleged in the FIR that Vinod Nagar, the first informant, was insulted by appellants 2 and 3 (by calling him a ‘Chamar’) when he stood near the car which was parked at the gate of the premises. In our opinion, this was certainly a place within public view, since the gate of a house is certainly a place within public view. It could have been a different matter had the alleged offence been committed inside a building, and also was not in the public view. However, if the offence is committed outside the building e.g. in a lawn outside a house, and the lawn can be seen by someone from the road or lane outside the boundary wall, the lawn would certainly be a place within the public view. Also, even if the remark is made inside a building, but some members of the public are there (not merely relatives or friends) then also it would be an offence since it is in the public view. We must, therefore, not confuse the expression ‘place within public view’ with the expression ‘public place’. A place can be a private place but yet within the public view. On the other hand, a public place would ordinarily mean a place which is owned or leased by the Government or the municipality (or other local body) or gaon sabha or an instrumentality of the State, and not by private persons or private bodies.
And relating to American cuss word Nigger,
30. In this connection it may be mentioned that in America to use the word ‘Nigger’ today for an African-American is regarded as highly offensive and is totally unacceptable, even if it was acceptable 50 years ago. In our opinion, even if the word ‘Chamar’ was not regarded offensive at one time in our country, today it is certainly a highly offensive word when used in a derogatory sense to insult and humiliate a person. Hence, it should never be used with that intent. The use of the word ‘Chamar’ will certainly attract section 3(1)(x) of the Act, if from the context it appears that it was used in a derogatory sense to insult or humiliate a member of the SC/ST.
And then Husband was held to have NOT insulted the respondent in public view,
Swaran Singh and Ors Vs State NCT Delhi and Anr on 18 Aug 2008
34. However, a perusal of the F.I.R. shows that Swaran Singh did not use these offensive words in the public view. There is nothing in the F.I.R. to show that any member of the public was present when Swaran Singh uttered these words, or that the place where he uttered them was a place which ordinarily could be seen by the public. Hence in our opinion no prima facie offence is made out against appellant no.1.
Citations : [2008 SCC 8 435], [2008 SCC CRI 3 527], [2008 AIC SC 69 25], [2008 AIOL 938], [2008 AIR SC SUPP 441], [2009 BOMCR CRI SC 2 431], [2008 CRLJ SC 4369], [2008 JT 9 60], [2009 MPLJ SC 1 503], [2008 SCALE 11 346], [2008 SCR 12 132]
Other Sources :