February 23, 2022 12:17:11 pm
Observing that a single incident of saying “I love you” to a minor girl will “at the most amount to expressing the feeling of love”, a special court has acquitted a 22-year-old man of sexual harassment charges.
In its order passed on Tuesday, the special court designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso), has said that the prosecution did not bring on record an ‘overt act’ by the accused which would amount to insulting the modesty of the victim. It also noted material contradictions in the testimonies of the 17-year-old victim and her mother on the place where the incident took place and other details.
“…as per victim, on the day of the incident, the accused said ‘I love you’ to her. It is not the case of the victim that the accused repeatedly followed her and said ‘I love you’. Single incident of saying I love you will at the most amount to expressing the feeling of love of the accused towards the victim. This act cannot be said to be done with an intention to insult the modesty of the victim. (The) prosecution has not brought on record an overt act of the accused which will amount to insulting the modesty of the victim. It has not brought on record any evidence establishing that accused has committed any act with respect to the victim with sexual intent,” special judge Kalpana Patil said in her order.
The accused, who was the victim’s neighbour, was booked on charges of sections 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (outraging modesty of a woman) under the Indian Penal Code and the relevant sections of the Pocso Act in 2016.
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According to the victim’s testimony, on February 7, 2016, when she was going to the public bathroom in her area, the accused followed her and told her that he loved her. She returned home and informed her mother of this. She also told the court that the accused had harassed her earlier as well and that he used to stare at her but she had ignored it. The victim’s mother told the court that the accused also used to wink at her daughter and that one a relative of the accused had threatened her. The victim in her testimony did not refer to the wink.
The court said that the spot of the incident narrated by the minor and her mother was different. While the mother said that the incident had taken place at a bathroom near their home, the victim said that she had gone to another bathroom. The court said that the exact evidence by the two was ‘vague’.
The court acquitted the accused considering the material contradiction about the spot of incident and the vague nature of evidence about the exact act of the accused.
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