• Ms. Kanika Balhara

Prathvi Raj Chauhan v. Union Of India ((2020) 4 SCC 727)


Prathvi Raj Chauhan v. Union Of India


(2020) 4 SCC 727


Supreme Court of India

Full Bench - Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra , Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saran and Hon’ble Justice S. Ravindra Bhat


Constitutionality of SC/ST Act [Amendment] Case


Assessing whether Section 18A violates the fundamental rights to equality, life and liberty guaranteed by Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution


  1. The petitioners had questioned the provisions inserted by way of carving out section 18A of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Act of 1989).

  2. It is submitted that section 18A has been enacted to nullify the judgment of the apex Court in Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr., [(2018) 6 SCC 454], that the provisions of the Act of 1989 are being misused as such the amendment is arbitrary, unjust, irrational and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.


  • Whether section 18–A of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 is constitutionally valid?

It was found by the court that section 18A had been enacted to nullify the judgment of the apex Court in Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr., (2018) 6 SCC 454.

The Court had struck down the provision of section 66A of the Information Technology Act on the ground of violation of fundamental rights; on the same anvil, the provisions of section 18A of the Act of 1989 deserve to be struck down. The section 18A(i) was inserted owing to the decision of the Court in Dr. Subhash Kashinath, which made it necessary to obtain the approval of the appointing authority concerning a public servant and the SSP in the case of arrest of accused persons.

Thus, the provisions which have been made in section 18A are rendered of academic use as they were enacted to take care of a mandate issued in Dr. Subhash Kashinath (supra) which no longer prevails. The provisions were already in section 18 of the Act with respect to anticipatory bail. The Court, further, said that provisions of section 438 Cr.PC shall not apply to the cases under Act of 1989. However, if the complaint does not make out a prima facie case for applicability of the provisions of the Act of 1989, the bar created by section 18 and 18A(i) shall not apply.

  • Whether the bar on granting anticipatory bail is valid and whether it infringes the personal liberty of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution?

In Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr., (2018) 6 SCC 454, in which following directions were issued - (ii) There is no absolute bar against grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Atrocities Act if no prima facie case is made out or where on judicial scrutiny the complaint is found to be prima facie mala fide.

Justice S. Ravindra Bhatt in his separate opinion added a caveat with the observation and emphasized that while considering any application seeking pre-arrest bail, the High Court has to balance the two interests: i.e. that the power is not so used as to convert the jurisdiction into that under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code, but that it is used sparingly and such orders made in very exceptional cases where no prima facie offence is made out as shown in the FIR, and further also that if such orders are not made in those classes of cases, the result would inevitably be a miscarriage of justice or abuse of process of law. The court observed that such stringent terms, otherwise contrary to the philosophy of bail, absolutely essential, because a liberal use of the power to grant pre-arrest bail would defeat the intention of Parliament.

The marginalization of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities is an enduring exclusion and is based almost solely on caste identities. It is to address problems of a segmented society, that express provisions of the Constitution which give effect to the idea of fraternity, or bandhutva referred to in the Preamble, and statutes like the Act, have been framed.

The petitions were accordingly disposed of.


  1. Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr., (2018) 6 SCC 454

  2. Union of India v. State of Maharastra 2019 (13) SCALE 280

  3. Hinch Lal Tiwari v. Kamla Devi, (2001) 6 SCC 496

  4. Francis Coralie Mullin v. Union Territory Delhi, Administrator, AIR 1981 SC 746

  5. Olga Tellis v. Bombay Corporation, AIR 1986 SC 180

  6. People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, (2005) 2 SCC 436

  7. Umesh Kumar v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2013) 10 SCC 591

  8. Kishore Samrite v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2013) 2 SCC 398

  9. Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India, (2016) 7 SCC 221

  10. Kailas & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra, 2011 (1) SCC 793

  11. State of M.P. v. R.K. Balothia, (1995) 3 SCC 221

  12. Vilas Pandurang Pawar and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors., (2012) 8 SCC 795

  13. Shakuntla Devi v. Baljinder Singh, (2014) 15 SCC 521

  14. Lalita Kumari v. Government of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1

  15. National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights v. Union of India (2017) 2 SCC 432

The author is a law graduate from the University School of Law & Legal Studies, GGS IP University, New Delhi.

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