Libertatem Magazine

Case Comment on Prathvi Raj Chauhan vs. Union of India and Others

Contents of this Page


Millions of people in India’s backward classes have been denied basic human rights due to the centuries-old caste system. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was enacted to prevent atrocities against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This act also creates Special Courts for the prosecution of certain offenses, as well as harsh punishments for violators. Victims of such crimes are therefore entitled to relief and rehabilitation under the law. For offenses registered under the days before applying for bail.

In this case, the petitioners challenged the constitutional validity of Section 18-A of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 as it says that anticipatory bail will not apply to cases brought under the said Act.


  1. Was the absolute prohibition on granting anticipatory bail to the accused arbitrary and unjust, in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution?
  2. Is the prohibition on anticipatory bail an infringement on the personal liberty of a person who has been arrested under the Act without cause?
  3. Is the power of automatic arrest a violation of the safeguards enshrined in sections 41 and 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1908? Is it a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution’s protection of reasonable procedure?


If any person has reason to believe that he may be arrested on suspicion of committing a non-bailable offense, he may apply to the High Court or the Court of Session for a direction under Section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code and in the event of such arrest, he shall be released on bail, and the court shall grant him anticipatory bail.

But Section 18A of the Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 said that Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code (which provides for anticipatory bail) would not apply to any offense committed under this particular Act.


Section 18A of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 was enacted by Parliament in 2018 to overturn safeguards enacted by the Supreme Court in the case of Subhash Kashinath Mahajan vs. The State of Maharashtra & anr.1.

Section 18A nullifies all three of the following safeguards enacted by the decision:

  1. Before registering a First Information Report, conduct a preliminary investigation (FIR).
  2. Before making an arrest, the investigation officer must obtain additional approval.
  3. Regardless of any decision, order, or direction of any court, grant anticipatory bail to any accused person.


Following the passage of Kashinath Mahajan, the parliament took steps to overturn the judgment, citing the fact that it has resulted in widespread violence and agitation by Dalits and Adivasis, and initiated an amendment bill. On September 7, 2018, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the central government to respond to the petition. The central government has filed an affidavit in response to the notice. The 2018 Amendment has been contested in multiple petitions and finally, the review petition was referred to a three-judge bench on September 13, 2019, by a division bench consisting of Arun Mishra and UU Lalit.


Contention on behalf of Petitioner:

The counsel for the petitioner contended the Kashinath Mahajan safeguards were introduced in a way to keep people from violating the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. They were ostensibly


1 (2018) 6 SCC 454

introduced in retaliation to a growing amount of false charges brought under the Act. The provisions were designed to ensure that those accused of crimes under the Prevention of Atrocities Act were not presumed guilty and denied due process.

Furthermore, it was claimed that the absolute ban on anticipatory bail would be a breach of the fundamental right to personal liberty secured by Article 21 of the Constitution.


Contention on behalf of Respondent:

The counsel for the respondent contended that the amendment was introduced in response to a large number of acquittal cases in which the police failed to adequately enforce the act, and the prosecution of the accused was also unsuccessful.

They further argued that the amendment is consistent with the act’s goal of protecting the SC/ST section of society.



In this case, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutional validity of section 18-A of The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 and declared the Kashinath Mahajan case null and void. The court also found that the Kashinath Mahajan guidelines placed an unnecessary burden on citizens belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribes.

When it came to section 18-A of the Act, the court claimed that when looking into the clause of section 18 concerning preliminary inquiry before registration of an FIR, the inquiry is permissible only under the conditions set out in Lalita Kumari vs. Government of U.P2. which are as follows:


  • When an officer in charge of a police station receives information about the commission of a cognizable crime, he is allowed by section 154(1) of the code to file an FIR.


  • A preliminary investigation can be undertaken if the information obtained suggests the need for further investigation.


  • Where the source of information is suspect, such as an anonymous complaint, the officer in charge of the police station can conduct a preliminary investigation to ensure that the information is accurate.


2 (2014) SCC 1

  • The preliminary investigation must be completed quickly and as carefully as possible.


  • The preliminary investigation is not only reopened in cases involving public servants, physicians, or experts in high-ranking roles. The facts and circumstances of each case will decide if a preliminary investigation is required.

The court also ruled that no anticipatory bail should be granted for crimes committed against members of the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribes, as specified by the SC/ST Amendment Act. Anticipatory bail can only be granted under extraordinary circumstances, according to Justice Ravindra Bhat.

They also found that if the accused is a public servant, the arrest can only be made with the consent of the appointing authority, and if the accused is a non-public servant, the arrest can only be made with the permission of the Senior Superintended of Police.


About the Author