January 29, 2021 9:42:45 am
Knowing a woman does not entitle man to misuse social media and circulate objectionable material on her, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed while dismissing the anticipatory bail plea of a person booked for sexually harassing a woman.
An FIR was registered against Gagandeep Sharma at Sadar police station in Gurdaspur on December 9, 2020, under sections 354 (assault or use of criminal force on woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 354-A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) of IPC and Section 66 of the Information and Technology Act, 2000 on the complaint of a woman, alleging that the he had circulated her certain photographs on WhatsApp and sent certain offensive messages on her mobile. It was alleged that on August 26 the accused circulated photographs, and the next day, when she was going to temple, the accused forcibly dragged her in his shop and performed obscene acts. On her resistance, she was threatened to be eliminated.
The accused, whose bail plea was dismissed by the lower Court, had approached the High Court. The counsel for the accused contended that the woman and the petitioner are known to each other since long and residents of the same village. While the woman is major, the reliance is upon photographs to submit that she had relations with the petitioner. It was further contended that the petitioner’s uncle had got registered an FIR at Sadar police station on June 13, 2018 for cheating against the parents of the woman. The two parties had reached a compromise in 2019. The counsel argued that there is a delay of three months in registering the FIR.
Justice Avneesh Jhingan, after hearing the arguments, held that the fact the petitioner and the woman were known to each other does not entitle him to misuse the social media and circulate objectionable material. “Reliance on photographs does not enhance the case of the petitioner. There is no date on the photographs and moreover even assuming that these photographs were earlier in time, this is not enough to permit the petitioner to malign the image of a girl. The allegation that the present FIR is a counter blast to the earlier FIR registered by the uncle of the petitioner prima facie does not appear to be correct. The matter was compromised way back in 2019, the present FIR is 9.12.2020. It is very difficult to swallow such allegations would be made as a counter blast. There is another aspect of the matter, during investigation it is found that objectionable material was used by petitioner on social media,” Justice Jhingan said.
Considering the seriousness of the allegations and “this being a case where custodial interrogation would be necessary to recover the material available with the petitioner” against the woman, the HC dismissed the plea for anticipatory bail.
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