Gujarat HC: SC/ST Act’s Non-Obstante Clause Takes Precedence in Appeals


LI Network

Published on: October 17, 2023 at 12:32 IST

The Gujarat High Court has ruled that the non-obstante clause found in Sub-section 1 of Section 14A of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, also known as the SC/ST Act, takes precedence over the general provisions of appeals under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1908 (CrPC).

This decision was made in the context of a group of petitions seeking the condonation of a 142-day delay, which were filed under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

Justice Nisha M. Thakore, presiding as a Single Bench, stated, “… it is held that the non-obstante clause appearing in Sub-section 1 of Section 14A of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 shall have an overriding effect on the general provisions of appeal as provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1908 in case of filing appeal against any judgment, sentence, or order arising out of the said Act. Hence, all these appeals arising out of an offense alleged under the provisions of the Atrocities Act, filed at the instance of the State or at the instance of the original complainant are treated as appeals filed under Section 14A of the Atrocities Act.”

The primary matter in this group of cases involved an application initiated by the State, seeking condonation of a 142-day delay in filing an appeal under Section 378(1) of Cr.P.C.

The High Court, upon recognizing the nature of the charge, raised the issue of the appeal’s maintainability, as similar matters were being pursued by advocates representing the original complainant/victim, who had moved the Court by filing appeals under Section 372 of Cr.P.C.

All these cases were consequently consolidated and heard together on the specific aspect of the appeal’s maintainability.

In this context, the High Court noted, “It has been noticed that the application seeking condonation of delay has been preferred by the original complainant as well as by the State while moving these appeals under Section 372 and under Section 378(3) of the Code respectively.”

The court also mentioned that the period of limitation had been calculated differently, in contrast to the 90-day limitation prescribed under the SC/ST Act.

The Court clarified that it did not examine the merits of the appeal or the application seeking the condonation of the delay. As a result, the High Court requested the registry to take the necessary actions in light of the decision.

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