A woman candidate of the Congress party, accused of allegedly hurling casteist slur at a voter and threatening him during MCD elections in 2012, has been discharged by a court in New Delhi. Her comment “neechi jaati wala” did not specifically denote scheduled caste or scheduled tribe, but could be any lower caste, the court said, adding that the allegation of giving out a threat was also missing from the complainant’s statement.
According to the FIR, complainant Jogender was walking back after casting his vote when the woman, who was contesting the municipal body election from Shahpur Jat ward in New Delhi, allegedly shouted at him from her car.
The court, however, said it cannot be unambiguously inferred that the woman knew the caste of the complainant. “The allegation is that the accused addressed the complainant as ‘Neechi Jaati Wala’. From this allegation, it cannot be unambiguously inferred that the accused knew the caste of the complainant.
“The phrase could denote any lower caste, not necessarily the SC/ST caste. Criminal statutes require strict interpretation, therefore, clear allegations regarding the caste of the complainant should have surfaced during investigation which are conspicuously absent in the present case,” Additional Sessions Judge A K Jain said.
The court also noted that the allegation of threat was missing from the statement of the complainant. The police had lodged an FIR on the complaint of Jogender for the alleged offence under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Denying the allegations, the counsel for the accused woman had claimed that ‘Neech Jaat’ does not mean the caste of the complainant as scheduled caste.