Observing that uploading videos on TikTok and living a “modern and stylish life” cannot be used to blame someone for being sexually harassed, a special court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of an employee of a fashion designer arrested for allegedly molesting his 17-year-old assistant.
Among the submissions made before the special court by the 37-year-old accused was that the minor followed a “modern lifestyle” and worked as an actor on social media platform TikTok. Denying that the alleged incident of sexual harassment took place, the accused’s lawyer showed the court dance videos uploaded by the minor, as a ground for seeking bail.
“Living a modern and stylish life cannot be a crime. Uploading videos on TikTok cannot be the reason to hold her responsible for the alleged incident. Accused is involved in a serious crime… earlier also, the accused has sexually harassed her. This is the case of sexual harassment of the minor girl at the workplace. It has to be looked at seriously. Releasing such a man on bail during the investigation stage would certainly send a bad signal to the society,” Special Judge M A Baraliya said.
According to the submissions made by Special Public Prosecutor Geeta Sharma, the accused and the minor worked as a tailor and assistant tailor, respectively, at a fashion designer’s workshop in the western suburbs of Mumbai.
In her complaint to the police, the minor has claimed that the accused would sexually harass her at the workplace by making gestures at her. On October 5, he held her, tried to take a selfie and sexually abused her, she has alleged.
The minor has also alleged that she had informed her employers but no action was taken. The prosecution submitted that on October 12, an audio message sent on a WhatsApp group by her employer said that the minor was responsible for the abuse too, as she wore short clothes and acted friendly with the accused.
When she realised that no action would be taken, the teenager approached the police and an FIR was filed under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act on November 5.
The accused was arrested the following day.
The accused has also claimed innocence on the ground that there was a delay in filing of the FIR. The court said that the delay was explained by the minor, as she awaited action to be taken by her employers.
“As she had been blamed for the said incident and the office was not ready to take any action, she was required to approach the police,” the court said. It added that granting the accused bail could result in the possibility of threatening witnesses in the case.
Last month, the special court had granted anticipatory bail to the employer, who was also named by the minor for making public an audio clip blaming her for the harassment. The 51-year-old woman had claimed that she was falsely implicated and was ready to cooperate with the probe.