Act of pulling a woman, coupled with a request for sexual intercourse amounts to outraging her Modesty; Allahabad HC [Read Judgment]

Act of pulling a woman, coupled with a request for sexual intercourse amounts to outraging her Modesty; Allahabad HC [Read Judgment]

The Allahabad High Court in a recent case of Jag Mohan s/o Ram Lal v. State of UP, has broadened the interpretation of term "outraging the modesty of a woman" under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code.

In the said case, the victim was raped and sexually assaulted by using criminal force. However owing to lack of any visible injury marks on the body of the victim, the accused pleaded not guilty as far as Section 354 was concerned. The HC however rejected the contention, and relied on testimony of the victim's brother and another eye-witness to nail the accused. In the said case, the Court noted :

 “What constitutes an outrage to female modesty is nowhere defined in IPC. The culpable intention of the accused is the crux of the matter. The reaction of the woman is very relevant, but its absence is not always decisive. Modesty in this Section is an attribute associated with female human beings as a class. It is a virtue which attaches to a female owing to her sex. The act of pulling a woman, coupled with a request for sexual intercourse, is such as would be an outrage to the modesty of a woman; and knowledge, that modesty is likely to be outraged, is sufficient to constitute the offence without any deliberate intention having such outrage alone for its object.

Another aspect dealt at length in the Case was of Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC).The Investigation Officer had not recorded the statement of the victim under Section 164 of CrPC, an important process to be followed in matters of rape and sexual assault. The High Court however, shot down argument of the counsel for accused that the conviction on the basis of uncorroborated testimony of the victim was not safe.

"There is no legal compulsion to look for corroboration of the evidence of the victim before recording an order of conviction. Evidence has to be weighed and not counted. Conviction can be recorded on the sole testimony of the victim, if her evidence inspires confidence and there is absence of circumstances which militate against her veracity," noted Justice Dr. Vijay Laxmi.

The HC also referred to past judgements to further explain itself. Referring to "Karnel Singh v State of MP (1995)5 SCC 518, the Court said that

“where the investigation was defective, the court has to consider whether the evidence on record, even on strict scrutiny, establishes the guilt. In cases of defective investigation the court has to be circumspect in evaluating the evidence but it would not be right in acquitting an accused person solely on account of the defect."

It also referred to "Sukhvinder Singh vs State Of Punjab (2014) 12 SCC 490, noting –

if such (investigation) mistakes or lapses are given undue importance every criminal case will end in acquittal. The court with its vast experience should be quick to notice mischief if there is any. Incompetent prosecuting agencies or prosecuting agencies which are driven by extraneous considerations should not be allowed to take the court for a ride. Particularly in offences relating to women and children, which are on rise, the courts will have to adopt a pragmatic approach."

Read the Judgment here.