A Delhi Court on Wednesday found the former Regional Manager (India) of the Srilankan Airlines guilty of outraging the modesty of his subordinate employee.
The conviction order against the accused, Lalit D'Silva, was passed on the basis of sole testimony of the prosecutrix, Sales Executive at the Airlines, after the Court observed that her testimony had been "thoroughly consistent".
Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha observed thus:
"reliance can be placed on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix provided by her if testimony inspires confidence. In the present case the prosecutrix has been thoroughly consistent in her statement regarding the date on which the incident happened and how it happened from her statement given to police, in her statement under section 164 CrPC and her statement made before the Court while undergoing her examination in chief. The accused was given opportunity to cross examine the complainant and after a lengthy cross examination the complainant was able to stand her ground."
The complainant had accused Mr. Lalit of asking her inappropriate questions that intruded upon her privacy. Accordingly, an FIR was registered under Section 509 of IPC for outraging the modesty of a woman.
The Court observed that there is no manner in which the "intention" of an accused to insult the modesty of a woman can be determined and the same has to be gathered from the act complained off.
Reliance was placed on a Bombay High Court verdict in Prasad Shirodkar v. State.
In the present case, the Court said, it is clear that the accused with intend to outrage the modesty of the complainant uttered the words complained of and just because there are no other witnesses to the incident the testimony of the complainant cannot be disbelieved.
The accused had contested the testimony of the prosecutrix on to grounds:
- 1.She had changed the date of alleged incident in her statements
- 2.There was a delay in lodging the FIR
The Court did not entertain both these arguments and stated as follows:
"Just because in her first complaint given to the company by mail dated 28.09.2011, she mentioned a different date of the alleged incident does not impact her unassailed testimony before the Court.
…though delay in lodging FIR can entail serious consequences to the prosecution case, but if the delay has been satisfactorily explained then it does not casts clouds of suspicion upon the prosecution case."
Thus, the Court decided to proceed on the basis of sole testimony of the complainant.
"In the present case, the complainant has stated that immediately after the incident she made complaint to a number of her seniors and waited for an action to be taken against the accused, who is a senior employee of the company. She was throughly cross examined by the defence. She has further stated that only after realizing that no action will be taken against the accused she made a formal complaint. The complainant has been consistent in her explanation regarding delay and she being a woman in a social setting like ours is often subjected to many pressure in matters like these. In the present case, not only the social dignity of the complainant was on line but also there must be some professional considerations, the accused being a senior officer of the company and her boss. Thus, the explanation given by the complainant is believable."
The judgement was pronounced through video conferencing and the matter is now posted for hearing on quantum of sentence on November 17. The maximum punishment for the offence is three years jail term.