December 25, 2021 3:58:16 pm
Observing that behaviour of an applicant sitting on a cot of a victim woman at her feet “smacks of sexual intent” and “a stranger touching any part of woman’s body without her consent during the dead hour (midnight) amounts to violation of her modesty,” the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court dismissed a plea by a 36-year-old man from Maharashtra’s Jalna district challenging his conviction for outraging the modesty of the victim.
A single-judge bench of Justice Mukund G Sewlikar on December 21 (Tuesday) passed a verdict in the criminal revision plea by one Parmeshwar Dhage who challenged the order passed by a sessions court in Jalna on August 21.
The sessions judge had confirmed the magistrate court’s order that had convicted him of offences punishable under sections 451 ( house-trespass in order to commit offence punishable with imprisonment) and 354-A (i) (physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures).
As per the FIR lodged by the victim, on July 4, 2014, she and her grandmother-in-law were the only persons in their house as her husband had gone to the village. Around 8 pm, the accused visited the victim’s house and inquired as to when her husband would return. The victim answered that her husband would not be returning at night.
The accused again went to the victim’s house around 11 pm in the night while she was sleeping. The victim had closed the main door of her house without bolting it from inside. After she sensed that someone was touching her feet, she woke up and found the accused sitting near her feet on her cot. After the victim and subsequently her grandmother-in-law shouted, the applicant ran away. The victim informed her husband on phone about the incident and the next morning the husband returned and she lodged the police report against the accused.
Advocate Pratik Bhosle, for the applicant, claimed that as per the prosecution’s case, the door was not bolted from inside, which indicated that the applicant had entered the house with the consent of the victim.
“When the informant and her grandmother-in-law were alone in the house, normally in such situations ladies bolt the door from inside,” he claimed, adding that the applicant had only touched the victim’s feet without having any sexual intent.
Bhosle also argued that there was a delay of almost 12 hours in lodging the FIR and as the explanation for the same was not given, the trial court has committed a “grave error” in convicting the accused.
After hearing the submissions and perusing the material on record, Justice Sewlikar observed: “It is clear that the act of the applicant was capable of shocking the sense of decency of any woman. In the case at hand, the applicant was sitting at the feet of the victim and had touched her feet and was sitting on her cot. This behaviour smacks of sexual intent. Otherwise, there was no reason for the applicant to be in the house of the victim at such an odd hour of the night.”
The judge noted that the applicant’s counsel could not give any satisfactory answer to the query on why he was present in the informant’s house at dead hours of the night. The court noted that the victim’s conduct in waiting for the husband’s arrival to lodge the report “cannot be faulted with”.
The bench, while dismissing the plea held, “Touching any part of the body of a woman without her consent, that too in the dead hour of the night, by a stranger amounts to violation of modesty of a woman. The applicant did not enter the house of the victim with any sublime motive. He had ensured in the evening from the victim that her husband would not be present in the house at night…This clearly indicates that the applicant had gone there with sexual intent and violated the modesty of the informant. Therefore, the trial court did not commit any error in holding that the applicant had molested the victim/informant.”
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