On November 5, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that not all cases of intimidation and harassment of people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes would attract the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The Court quashed a complaint about a member of a Scheduled Caste community being intimidated because the incident occurred within the “four walls of her building” and could not be said to have taken place within public view.

The case drew attention yet again to a flaw in the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that helps maintain the status quo in favour of members of the upper castes. It highlighted how the Act does not attempt to stamp out caste discrimination, violence and oppression entirely, emphasising the urgent need to amend the legislation.

Hurling abuse

The case related to a complaint by a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste that a member of an upper-caste community, with whom she had a property dispute, entered the “four walls of her building”, hurled casteist abuses, threatened her labourers and her with death and took away the construction material from her property.

Among other provisions of law, a case was filed under section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act, which punishes...

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