Priti Agarwalla vs State Of GNCT Of Delhi 2024 INSC 437 -Ss 3,4 SC-ST Act- S 156(3) CrPC

Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989; Section 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s)- Intentional insult or abuse coupled with the humiliation is made in any place within public view. The expression “in any place within public view” has an important role to play in deciding whether the allegation attracts the ingredients of an offence or not- An important test for “in any place within public view” is within the view of persons other than the complainant. (Para 19-22)

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 156(3)- The Magistrate, under section 156(3) of the CrPC, asks himself a question: whether the complaint, as presented, makes out a case for directing the registration of an FIR or calls for inquiry or report from the jurisdictional police station. The inner and outer limit of the exercise of this jurisdiction is on a case-to-case basis dependent on the complaint, nature of allegations and offence set out by such a complaint- The Magistrate does not act mechanically and exercises his discretion judiciously by applying mind to the circumstances complained of and the offence alleged against the accused for taking one or the other step- To cause or register an FIR and consequential investigation based on the same petition filed under section 156(3) of the CrPC, the complaint satisfies the essential ingredients of the offences alleged. In other words, if such allegations in the petition are vague and do not specify the alleged offences, it cannot lead to an order for registration of an FIR and investigation. (Para 14-18)

Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989; Section 4– The commission or omission of any of the duties by the public servant becomes a cognizable offence against the public servant only on the recommendation of the administrative enquiry, for in law, an offence means any act or omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force. A combined reading of sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of section 4, would demonstrate that the commission or omission by a public servant has penal consequences and the willful neglect is recommended by an administrative enquiry and the cognizance can be taken thereafter. The recommendation of administrative enquiry on alleged failure of duty or function by a public servant would make the neglect of an offence clear and the cognizance of such an offence is legal. The competent court can take cognizance of the commission or omission of any duty specified under sub-section (2) of section 4 when made along with the recommendation and direct legal proceedings. Therefore, to constitute a prima facie case of negligence of duty, the proviso to subsection (2) of section 4 contemplates an administrative enquiry and recommendations- the purpose of an administrative enquiry is to find out the conduct of a public servant against whom allegations of failure of duty or function are made and the omission or commission is bonafide or willful. (Para 13.4)

Interpretation of Statutes- A proviso is a clause that introduces a condition by the word ‘provided’. The main function of a proviso is to put a qualification and to attach a condition to the main provision. It indicates the exceptions to the provision but may aid in explaining what is meant to be conveyed by its part. A proviso is “introduced to indicate the effect of certain things which are within the statute but accompanied by the peculiar conditions embraced within the proviso”. A proviso is enacted to modify the immediately preceding language. (Para 13.4)

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