Modesty of a woman has to be strongly guarded and Courts should not show any leniency to the offenders: SC

Modesty of a woman has to be strongly guarded and Courts should not show any leniency to the offenders: SC

The Supreme Court held that with the social condition prevailing in the society, the modesty of a woman has to be strongly guarded and the Courts should not show any leniency to the offenders even if the offender is a minor.

The appellant Ajahar Ali was found guilty for the offence punishable under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) by a Magistrate Court after a prolonged trial lasting almost 17 years. The conviction was affirmed by the Sessions Court and the Calcutta High Court later. It was against this conviction, the appellant had appealed.

The Bench consisting  Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde said that , “The  provisions  of  Section  354  IPC  has  been  enacted  to safeguard public morality and decent behavior.  Therefore, if any person uses criminal force upon any woman with the intention or knowledge that the woman’s modesty will be outraged, he is to be punished.”

The appellant contended that since the incident occurred more than 18 years ago and at that time the appellant as well as the complainant were about 16 years of age, the Court should not send the appellant to jail at such a belated stage. It was further contended that considering the fact that the appellant was juvenile in view of the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, he ought to have been tried before the Juvenile Justice Board and not by the criminal court, as was done. Even otherwise, considering the time gap of 18 years and the fact that the appellant as well as the complainant have settled in life and both of them are married and have children, their lives should not be disturbed and the Court should give the benefit to the appellant under the provisions of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.

Rejecting this contention the Bench said, “In the instant case, as the appellant has committed a heinous crime and with the social condition prevailing in the society, the modesty of a woman has to be strongly guarded and as the appellant behaved like a road side Romeo, we do not think it is a fit case where the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act should be given to the appellant.”

On the question regarding the applicability of Juvenile Justice Act the Court held that, “If the matter came before the Juvenile Justice Board, the maximum sentence that can be awarded in such a case is of 3 years. In the instant case, the punishment awarded is only six months so the cause of the appellant is not prejudiced.”

The Bench dismissed the appeal and asked the complainant to surrender within a period of four weeks to serve out the sentence.