LI Network

Published on: November 19, 2023 at 00:02 IST

The Karnataka High Court has convicted and sentenced ten individuals to one year of imprisonment for forcibly entering a Harijan colony and attacking Dalit residents, who belong to a Scheduled Caste (SC).

Justice JM Khazi, in a single-judge decision, determined that the assault was solely prompted by the victims’ audacity to file a complaint against a member of a “forward community,” despite belonging to a Scheduled Caste.

The court emphasized that the assailants indiscriminately attacked the complainant and others without justification, highlighting that the victims had the courage to file a police complaint against a person from a forward caste. The convictions were made under various offenses outlined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (SC/ST Act).

The case originated from an incident in August 2008 when residents of the Harijan Colony, who were SC members, were verbally and physically assaulted by a group from a forward community.

The attack followed an attempt earlier in the day by SC members to file a criminal complaint against a forward caste individual regarding a morning scuffle. The prosecution argued that the evening assault was in retaliation to the morning’s complaint.

In 2011, the trial court acquitted all eleven accused individuals, a decision the State did not challenge. However, the complainant appealed to the High Court, questioning the trial court’s verdict. The High Court, on October 31, allowed the appeal, citing errors in the trial court’s approach.

Among the identified issues, the High Court criticized the trial court for erroneously concluding that the criminal complaint was ante-dated, dismissing the prosecution case as false.

The High Court emphasized the trial court’s failure to properly consider evidence and hasty pronouncement of the verdict.

Consequently, the High Court reversed the acquittal of all accused individuals, sentencing the remaining ten to one year of imprisonment and a fine of ₹3,000 each. One of the accused had passed away during the case’s pendency.

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