9 Oct 2022 6:25 AM GMT
Observing that the "essence" of a woman's modesty is her sex, a Delhi Court has said that use of abusive or filthy language alone cannot be equated with insulting modesty of a woman within the meaning of Section 509 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Metropolitan Magistrate Devanshu Sajlan of Tis Hazari Courts said that the ultimate test for ascertaining if a woman's modesty has been outraged is...
Observing that the "essence" of a woman's modesty is her sex, a Delhi Court has said that use of abusive or filthy language alone cannot be equated with insulting modesty of a woman within the meaning of Section 509 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Metropolitan Magistrate Devanshu Sajlan of Tis Hazari Courts said that the ultimate test for ascertaining if a woman's modesty has been outraged is whether the action of the offender is capable of shocking her sense of decency.
The court made the observations while acquitting a man in a case registered in 2014 alleging that he used filthy language against a woman and started a quarrel with her after she complained about leakage of water from his AC.
Relying on a Kerala High Court ruling in Abhijeet J.K. v. State of Kerala, the Judge observed that in order to attract section 509, merely insulting a woman is not sufficient and that the insult to her modesty is required to have been done.
"Therefore, while the definition of abusive language/ verbal abuse does include 'insults' within its meaning, it cannot be equated with insult to modesty of a woman. The court cannot presume that the filthy/ abusive language used amounted to insulting the modesty of the complainant and the prosecution was required to prove the same," the court said in a judgment passed on September 30.
Section 509: "Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both."
It was the complainant's case that on September 3, 2014, after finding out that the roof of her house was leaking, she went to the accused's home, who was residing as a tenant on the first floor, and told him that there was water leakage from the AC installed by him. Alleging that the accused abused her instead of listening to her, a case under Section 509 of the IPC was filed.
The court noted that even if the version of the complainant was to be believed as true, the offence under section 509 was not made out.
Observing that the prosecution had failed to prove or bring on record the nature of alleged abuses hurled at the complainant, the Judge was of the view that the entire case rested upon the mere phrase "abused me in very filthy language".
"I am of the opinion that in order to bring home the charge, the prosecution was required to prove the nature of abuses or filthy language which was allegedly used towards the complainant by the accused. In absence of the same, there is no means to ascertain whether the alleged abuses were mere insults or insults to the modesty of the complainant," the court said.
The court also said that apart from the allegation of using abusive or filthy language, there was nothing on record pointing towards the guilt of the accused.
"As noted above, the essence of a woman's modesty is her sex. Even if the version of the prosecution is believed to be true, it appears that there was a quarrel between the parties related to leakage of water, which led to use of alleged abusive language by the accused. The alleged abusive language appears to have been made in the context of a quarrel/ fight and there is no evidence on record that the said language was used with any sexual overtones," the court said.
The judge concluded that while the complainant had deposed in her cross-examination that five to six persons had gathered at the scene of the incident, no public witness was examined in the matter.
"To recapitulate the above discussion, to bring home the guilt of the accused, the prosecution was required to prove the offence under Section 509 IPC beyond reasonable doubt, which the prosecution has failed to do," the court said while acquitting the accused.
Title: State vs. Ankit Shukla
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