IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
AIR 1991 SC 207, (1991) 1 SCC 57
State of Maharashtra & anr.
Madhukar Narayan Mardikar
Date of Judgement
23 October, 1990
Hon’ble Justice K J Shetty, J.; Ahmadi, J.
The case embarks upon the law of privacy of woman to protect herself against the allegations that are violative of her rights. It deals with the evidentiary value of the facts in a criminal set up and gathering from the circumstances, the possibility of the evidence to be corroborative.
Facts of the case:
The Respondent was serving as a Police Inspector at the Bhiwandi Town Police Station in District Thana of Maharashtra. On a particular day, he visited the house of a lady at the night alone in his uniform and demanded intercourse with her. Due to her cry and shrieks of refusal, her husband and other neighbours collected outside and called the Police Station. On reaching the scene of occurrence, the respondent alleged the woman to have abused him and directed her to be taken to the Police Station.
A written complaint was made by the woman and a preliminary inquiry was instituted and after recording statements of witnesses, a charge sheet was prepared to level charges against of perverse conduct against the respondent, firstly for intending to have forceful and illicit intercourse with the woman and secondly, for fabricating documents to falsify that a prohibition raid was conducted in that area around the same time to defend himself.
A Departmental Inquiry was also instituted which submitted a detailed report and ordered the dismissal of respondent. The Inspector-General of Police on an examination of the report concurred with the Inquiry Officer and issued notice to the respondent to show cause for his conduct. Thereafter, the dismissal was ordered by the IG.
An appeal was thereafter filed by the respondent which was partly allowed. Aggrieved by it, he approached the High Court with a writ petition. The Division Bench quashed the impugned order of removal and held that guilt in respect of charges framed against the petition could not be established. Aggrieved by this order, the State of Maharashtra approached the Supreme Court by way of Special Leave Petition (SLP) under Article 136 of the Constitution.
- Whether the order of the High Court to restore the police officer to service against the order of the appellate authority sustainable?
The respondent alleged that the woman was dealing with illicit liquor and he had conducted a raid at her hutment on receipt of information of the same. It also came up in front of the Departmental Enquiry that she was having an extra-marital relationship to which she admitted. Though nothing incriminating was found at her house but finding liquor from near her hutment made her file a false complaint against the respondent in order to escape from the clutches of law. It was further contended that a woman with such past history could stoop to any level and hence could not be relied upon.
The Court allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the High Court to restore the order of removal from service passed by the appellate authority as it was not sustainable. The Inquiry Officer couldn’t comprehend that there could be any reason or motive for the woman to falsely involve the respondent as contended by him. Nothing was incriminating found from her house by the police and hence, the averments made by the respondents do not plea to any reason to hold that there was a false implication of the respondent in the present case. The evidence on record by the woman was not corroborated in material particulars by independent evidence
The evidence tendered at the inquiry does not support the facts as stated by the respondent as it led to conclude two things:
- that the police jeep was not available for use by the respondent till about 8.15 p.m and that the subordinates did not accompany the respondent for the raid as he had already left by that time., and
- when the subordinates reached the scene of occurrence, a crowd gathered the woman’s house with the respondent standing at some distance all alone.
The evidence also discloses that when the jeep returned to the Police Station from the so-called raid, it did not carry any prohibition articles.
In the light of all this evidence the Inquiry Officer was correct in upholding the woman’s version and holding that the entries made in the Station Diary were fabricated with the intent to cover up the misdeed of the respondent
The Court finds it difficult to uphold the High Court’s decision that by taking into consideration of the material placed on record a finding of guilt could not reasonably be arrived at.
The High Court gave undue focus to the statement of the Constable to conclude that non-supply of the original notebooks had prejudiced the defense. The High Court observed that since the woman had previous instances of unchastity, her allegations cannot be relied on to put a Government Official in jeopardy on the basis of an uncorroborated version.
As the Constitution guarantees every woman the right to privacy, no one can invade it on their wish. She is equally entitled to protect her person if there is an attempt to violate it against her wish and has the equal protection of laws. Therefore, merely because she is a woman of easy virtue, her evidence cannot be thrown overboard, and the only caution is to be maintained.
- The right to privacy enables an individual to protect themselves in an instance of a violation of the same.
- Equal protection of the law is granted to women.
- Evidence provided by a woman cannot be dismissed on her mere unchastity and entire facts and circumstances are to be taken into consideration.
Edited by Parul Soni
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje