The Allahabad High Court has given an important decision regarding the SC / ST Act. The court has said that now a person can be booked under the SC / ST Act only when the accused person knows that the victim belongs to a particular caste-class. If the accused person does not know while committing the crime that the victim belongs to SC / ST, then the accused person will not be subjected to the provisions of SC / ST Act.
The court acquitted the accused in the case of rape of a Scheduled Caste girl on the basis of the SC / ST Act allegation. Also reduced the life sentence of the accused to ten years. A division bench of Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Justice SS Shamshery gave this order while hearing the criminal appeal of Shamshad of Aligarh (rape accused).
According to the facts of the case, the mother of the nine-year-old victim lodged an FIR against Shamshad on April 15, 2009, alleging that the accused had lured the victim and misbehaved. Police also filed chargesheet in the sections of SC / ST Act with misconduct against the accused. In view of the victim’s statement and other evidence, the sessions court sentenced Shamshad to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000.
In the debate on the appeal against the conviction, it was stated that the accused was not aware that the victim belongs to the scheduled caste. He did not commit the offense because the victim belongs to a scheduled caste, so the provisions of the SC / ST Act will not apply in this case. The court said that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused had committed the crime with the victim because she was a Scheduled Caste. The accused did not know the victim beforehand so the provisions of SC / ST Act would not apply in this case. Several judgments of the Supreme Court on the point of punishment were sought to reduce the punishment.
The court stated that the accused was about 20 years old at the time of the incident. He has spent nearly 12 years in prison. In this case the sentence of ten years imprisonment fulfills the intent of justice. The court has ordered the release of the accused, considering the period spent in jail as a sufficient punishment.
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