In the High Court of Kerala Crl.MC.No.5130 OF 2019(A) Petitioner Abhijeet.J.K Respondents State of Kerala & ors. Date of Judgement 20th February 2020 Bench Justice R.Narayana Pisharadi
Facts of the Case:
On 12.07.2018, at about 21.30 hours, the victim lady aged 39 years was walking along a public road. It was night, at about 21.30 hours. The petitioner followed her on a motorcycle. He approached her and invited her to accompany him. The petitioner and the victim lady were not previously acquainted with each other. They were total strangers. Therefore, it cannot be found that the intention of the petitioner was to give the victim lady a lift or a free ride on the motorcycle, on account of friendship or relationship with her. There is also an allegation against him that he made sexual gesture to the victim lady with the middle finger of his hand. If the acts allegedly committed by the petitioner are considered in the light of the facts and circumstances of the case, prima facie, it can be found that his intention was to insult the modesty of the victim lady. The acts allegedly committed by the petitioner amount to an affront to her feminine decency. Such acts could be perceived as capable of shocking the sense of decency of the Crl.M.C.No.5130/2019 victim lady. The invitation made by the petitioner to the lady contained an insinuation that she was a woman of easy virtue who was ready and willing to go with any man during night. The case against the petitioner was registered on the basis of a written complaint made by the victim to the Sub Inspector of the local police station. After completing investigation, final report has been filed against the petitioner for Crl.M.C.No.5130/2019 an offence punishable under Section 509 I.P.C. The petition is filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C for quashing Annexure-A first information report registered against the petitioner and also Annexure-B final report filed against him. Public Prosecutor has submitted that the prosecution has produced sufficient materials to prove Crl.M.C.No.5130/2019 the allegations raised against the petitioner and that the final report filed against him discloses commission of an offence punishable under Section 509 I.P.C. Utterance of any word or making of any sound or gesture by a person, intending to insult the modesty of a woman, attracts the offence punishable under Section 509 I.P.C, if such act was made intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture shall be seen by such woman.
- Whether an act which amounts to an offence is trivial in nature would undoubtedly depend upon the nature of the harm caused, the position of the parties, the knowledge or Crl.M.C.No.5130/2019 intention with which the offending act is done and other related circumstances?
- Whether an act is trivial in nature or not does not depend merely upon the fact?
- Whether any physical harm was caused or not. An act of affront to the decency and dignity of a woman cannot be considered as trivial in nature?
Arguments from the Petitioner:
- The allegations made against the petitioner in the first information report do not attract the offence punishable under Section 509 I.P.C.
- In the final report it doesn’t disclose the commission of an offence punishable under Section 509 I.P.C by him.
- At any rate, the acts allegedly committed by the petitioner are trivial in nature and they come within the purview of Section 95 I.P.C.
- There is no material produced by the prosecution to infer that the petitioner intended to insult the modesty of the victim lady. Intention has to be gathered from the act complained of and the circumstances under which it is committed. Intention, being a state of mind, could not be proved by direct evidence. It has to be inferred from the facts and circumstances of a given case.
Arguments from the Defendants:
- He asked a lady colleague “You get up. You come along with me.” It was held that, prima facie, in the light of the attending circumstances, it amounted to an act of insulting the modesty of the victim lady.
- If the word uttered or the gesture made could be perceived as one which is capable of shocking the sense of Crl.M.C.No.5130/2019 decency of a woman, then it can be found that it is an act of insult to the modesty of the woman.
The Apex Court had occasion to observe as follows: “We notice that there is no uniform law in this country to curb eve- teasing effectively in or within the precinct of educational institutions, places of worship, bus stands, metro-stations, railway stations, cinema theatres, parks, beaches, and places of festival, public service vehicles or any other similar place. Eve-teasing generally occurs in public places which, with a little effort, can be effectively curbed. Consequences of not curbing such a menace, needless to say, at times disastrous. There are many instances where girls of young age are being harassed, which sometimes may lead to serious psychological problems and even committing suicide. Every citizen in this country has right to live with dignity and honour which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Sexual Crl.M.C.No.5130/2019 harassment like eve-teasing of women amounts to violation of rights guaranteed under Article 14, Article 15 as well. We notice in the absence of effective legislation to contain eve-teasing, normally, complaints are registered under Section 294 or Section 509 IPC. Eve teasing today has become pernicious, horrid and disgusting practice.. More and more girl students, women etc. go to educational institutions, work places etc. and their protection is of extreme importance to a civilized and cultured society”. The prayer for quashing the first information report and the final report against the petitioner cannot be allowed on any of the grounds urged by the learned counsel for the petitioner. Consequently, the petition is dismissed. It is made clear that, appreciation of the evidence that may be adduced during the trial of the case shall be done by the trial court untrammelled by any of the observations made in this order.
“The views of the authors are personal“