The Hon’ble Bombay High Court laid down that a Police Officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police has no authority to first inquire and then proceed to investigate the matter falling under the ambit of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Hon’ble Justice Prithviraj K. Chavan while hearing the criminal appeal Vikas Ravindra Bandgar vs The State of Maharashtra and Ramesh @ Balasheb Arjun Sawane agreed with the order dated 01.12.2018 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Baramati said that the Additional Sessions Judge has rightly concluded that the process is to be issued against Vikas Ravindra Bandgar (Appellant) under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter referred as “Act”).
The Appellant filed a criminal appeal challenging the order dated 01.12.2018 passed by Additional Sessions Judge, Baramati directing issuance of process against the appellant under Section 447, 504,506 of Indian Penal Code 1860 and under Section 3(1)(r) and (s) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The brief background of the case are as follows:
- Sampat Shivdas Bandgar on 27.09.2018 lodged a complaint against Ramesh Sawane (original complainant) alleging that Ramesh Sawane threatened to falsely implicate Sampat Bandgar on casteism and blackmailing.
- Ramesh Sawane (Respondent) was working for Sampat Bandgar between 1993-2005. In 2005 Ramesh left the service of Sampat and started dealing as a property agent.
- Sampat expressed his desire to purchase some land at highway near village Bhivgan to Ramesh. Thereafter, Ramesh informed Samat about a land situated at Bhadalwadi.
- Both Sampat and Ramesh agreed that after the sale deed a part of the land would be allotted to Ramesh in lieu of his commission which would be helpful for education and future of his son.
- Subsequently, despite the deal having been finalized, Sampat refused to keep his promise and thereby cheated Ramesh.
- According to Ramesh, Sampat threatened him and therefore he lodged a written complaint against Sampat on 06.08.2018. Ramesh also alleged that the police did not take any action against Sampat.
- Later, on 14.08.2018, Sampat sent the Appellant Vikas Ravindra Bandgar to Ramesh’s house. The Appellant threatened Ramesh to withdraw his complaint against Sampat or else he would eliminate Ramesh and his family. Ramesh further, alleges that the Appellant was armed with a revolver.
- The whole incident was witnessed by Ramesh’s wife and son.
- The learned Additional Session Judge dismissed the complaint against Sampat and Dhairyasheel Ravindra Bandgar and issued a process against the Appellant.
- The learned Additional Session Judge observed that a prima facie case is made against the Appellant on account of allegations made by an eyewitness namely Ajay, that on 14.08.2018 he saw the Appellant arrive at their house in the front shed and humiliate the complainant by referring to his caste after brandishing the revolver and intimidated Ramesh to withdraw the complaint filed against Sampat Bandgar.
The Hon’ble Justice Prithviraj K. Chavan after hearing the submissions of all the parties accepted the submission of Advocate Musale appearing on behalf of the Respondent, that Mr. Satpute Head Constable was asked by the Deputy Superintendent of Police to conduct an inquiry, which is a complete violation of the provisions of S.C/S.T. (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Whereas, the complaint filed by the Appellant being investigated by the Deputy Superintendent Police against the Respondent was strange and showcase biasness and disrespects law.
The Hon’ble Justice further observed that, the law is no more res integra that a police officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police should conduct the inquiry and investigate into matters where there are allegations of caste abuses etc. under the Act. It is his duty to first record the FIR and then proceed to investigate the matter. The way the Deputy Superintendent of Police conducted himself in the case at hand is quite condemnable. It is an example as to how some of the high-ranking police officers sometimes act in a biased manner. The Hon’ble Justice also directed the Superintendent of Police, Rural, Pune to take appropriate action against the Deputy Superintendent of Police for breach of his duty.
Order: BOMBAY HC 02.06.2020 (1)