The members of the SC/ST community cannot be treated as liars or crooks and it cannot be presumed that they would register false complaints to secure monetary benefits or to take revenge, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
The top court, which termed as "alarming" the data of National Crime Records Bureau that over 47,000 cases were registered in 2016 under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, observed it cannot be said that it is due to outcome of misuse of provisions of law.
"It would be against the basic human dignity to treat all of them (SC/ST members) as a liar or as a crook person and cannot look at every complaint by such complainant with a doubt," said a bench of justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai.
The bench observed this in its 51-page verdict by which it recalled the top court's direction in its March 20, 2018 judgement which had virtually diluted provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act.
Dealing with the issue related to allegations of filing of false cases by members of SC/ST communities under the Act, the top court stated, "it cannot be said that the caste of a person is the cause".
"It is due to the human failing and not due to the caste factor. Caste is not attributable to such an act. On the other hand, members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes due to backwardness hardly muster the courage to lodge even a first information report, much less, a false one," it said.
The bench said in case it is found that a case registered under the SC/ST Act is false or unsubstantiated, it might be due to faulty investigation or for other various reasons including human failings irrespective of caste factor.
"There may be certain cases which may be false that can be a ground for interference by the Court, but the law cannot be changed due to such misuse," it said.
"As a matter of fact, members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have suffered for long, hence, if we cannot provide them protective discrimination beneficial to them, we cannot place them at all at a disadvantageous position that may be causing injury to them by widening inequality and against the very spirit of our Constitution," it said.
The bench said that members of SC/ST communities hardly "muster the courage to speak against upper caste" and that is why provisions have been made by way of amendment for protection of witnesses and rehabilitation of victims.
"All humans are equal including in their frailings. To treat SCs and STs as persons who are prone to lodge false reports under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act for taking revenge or otherwise as monetary benefits made available to them in the case of their being subjected to such offence, would be against fundamental human equality," it said.
It said that such a presumption would mean adding insult to injury and merely the fact that a person may misuse provisions of law, cannot be a ground to treat a class with doubt.
The top court's March 20, 2018, verdict had led to a massive outcry and protests by different SC/ST organisations across India after which Parliament passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, to neutralise effects of the judgment.