10 Aug 2021 4:14 PM GMT
The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court recently observed that there exists no straitjacket formula to ascertain whether modesty of a woman is outraged. The High Court also went on to note that the very act of throwing a chit on a woman's person which professes love for her and which contains poetic verses, albeit extremely, purely written is sufficient to outrage the modesty of...
The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court recently observed that there exists no straitjacket formula to ascertain whether modesty of a woman is outraged.
The High Court also went on to note that the very act of throwing a chit on a woman's person which professes love for her and which contains poetic verses, albeit extremely, purely written is sufficient to outrage the modesty of a woman.
These observations were made while hearing a criminal revision application filed against a judgment passed in 2018 by the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Court 8, Akola whereby the applicant was convicted for offence punishable under Section 354, Section 509 and Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for two years and fine of Rs. 10,000/-; rigorous imprisonment for two years and fine of Rs. 30,000/- and rigorous imprisonment for one year respectively.
An FIR was filed by the victim (Mrs. "S") in 2011, alleging that the applicant, the owner of neighboring grocery shop, approached her when she was washing utensils and tried to hand over a chit. When she refused to accept the chit, the applicant threw the same on her person and left muttering "I love you".
It was further alleged that the next morning, the applicant made obscene gestures and warned her not to disclose the contents of the chit to anyone.
Even prior to the incident, the applicant was alleged to have flirted with her on many occasions and used to throw small pebbles on her person. The victim added that for eight days prior to the incident, the applicant indulged in making "obscene gestures".
The concerned Magistrate and the appellate Court had then held the accused guilty of offences punishable under Sections 354, 506 and 509 of the IPC on the basis of contents of the chit and the other material on record.
Justice Rohit B Deo did not undertake a microscopic examination of the evidence on record but found that there was no material, except a bald general statement that some threat was issued, to bring home the charge under Section 506 of the IPC.
"The sine qua non ingredients of Section 506 is criminal intimidation as defined in Section 503 of the IPC. A bare perusal of Section 503 would reveal that the threat must be with intent to cause injury either to person, reputation or property and the intent must be to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do", he observed.
He noted that the applicant threatened Mrs. "S" that the contents of the chit should not be disclosed. The nature of the threat, the words used, whether the words used were such as would cause alarm and whether the complainant as a fact was alarmed, were aspects within the realm of speculation.
The Court thus held that the conviction recorded under Section 506 of the IPC was unsustainable.
The bench further observed that no fault could be found with the finding that the applicant did outrage the victim's modesty. The evidence of flirting, making gestures like pouting of lips, on occasions hitting the victim with small pebbles were found to be confidence-inspiring.
Since the incident occurred ten years back, the applicant deserved a chance to reform and further incarceration was not likely to be of any avail opined the Court.
"…the applicant has already undergone 45 days of incarceration and considering the date of the incident or commission of offence, as the provisions of law stood then, there was no minimum sentence provided for offence punishable under Section 354 of the IPC. It is only by the 2013 amendment that minimum sentence is provided. I therefore find it appropriate to modify the sentence of imprisonment imposed for offences punishable under Section 354 and 509 of the IPC to the period already undergone."
With this view, the amount of fine has been enhanced to Rs. 50,000/- for offence punishable under Section 354 of the IPC and Rs. 40,000/- for offence punishable under Section 509 of the IPC. In addition to the amount of Rs. 35,000/- which was to be paid to the victim by virtue of the trial Magistrate's order, an additional fine of Rs. 50,000/- has been imposed by the instant judgment, be paid to the victim.
The applicant has been directed to deposit the fine in the trial Court within 15 days and file in the Registry an affidavit of compliance.
The trial Magistrate has also been asked to ensure that the victim is made aware of the judgment, and that the enhanced fine is duly paid to her, and if, due to death or any other reason, the victim is not available, to her legal heirs.
The matter has been listed "for reporting compliance" after three weeks.
Read Order here.