Men sent to jail under SC-ST Act, SC quashes ST status of the caste

New Delhi: The Supreme court has canceled the status of the Scheduled Tribe given to the Lohars of Bihar after a petitioner who was sent to jail under the SC-ST act approached the court. 

The Supreme Court in his order clarified that the ST status given by the Bihar government to the Lohars is unconstitutional. The court ruled that Bihar’s Lohar or Lohaar community is not the same as “Lohra or Lohra”, which are ST communities in several districts.

Supreme Court also stated it as a breach of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. 

Petitioners were sent to Jail under the SC-ST act filed by Lohars

The Petitioners who moved to court after spending days in Jail have said that they were falsely implicated under the SC-ST act filed by a person who comes from the Lohar caste. After which the petitioners had challenged the ST status of Lohars in the state.

Thousands of FIRs filed under the SC-ST by Lohars

It was brought to the notice of the court that there are thousands of FIRs filed in the State of Bihar invoking the impugned Notification resulting in deprivation of the liberty of several persons. 

“The implications of this Notification are deep and it affects the rights of the citizens in the most adverse manner. The impact of the Notification is also to be gauged in the context of the 1989 Act as it is with reference to the Presidential Notification under Article 342 that prosecution under the 1989 Act is also to be judged. In the other words, a person who is Lohar on being treated as Scheduled Tribe would be entitled to invoke the protection of the 1989 Act. That apart, it directly impinges upon the rights of the persons who stand in the shoes of the accused. The provisions of the 1989 Act have put stringent conditions in the matter of grant of bail. Anticipatory bail is not even permitted under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 vide Sections 18 and 18A of the 1989 Act.”

Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy

Grave Injustice 

While rejecting the ST status of the Lohars, Supreme Court has clarified that the notification sparks the SC-ST act by non-ST people and landed the petitioners in Jail. The court stated it as a grave injustice to the petitioners. 

“It is the case of the petitioners that this is per se unconstitutional and illegal. It occasions breach of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. What is more, relying upon the same, proceedings have been initiated against the petitioners under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Preventions of Atrocities Act), 1989 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the 1989 Act’). Petitioners were constrained to seek anticipatory bail. Petitioner Nos.2 and 4 were unsuccessful. In fact, they had to undergo custody and all this is solely on account of the fact that the respondent-State has proceeded to pass the impugned Notification which has come as a handle in the hands of persons who are not entitled to the protection under the 1989 Act, to use the enactment against the petitioners. This, in turn, as already noticed has occasioned grave injustice to the petitioners, including incarceration in jails.”

Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy

Directed the state to pay 5 Lakhs as compensation

The court has also directed the state to pay costs of Rupees Five Lakhs to the petitioners within a time period of one month. 

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