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Sexual harassment charge won’t stand if woman wore sexually provocative dresses: Kerala court

Writer and social activist Civic Chandran, who had furnished some photographs of the complainant with his bail plea, was granted anticipatory bail on August 12.

Writer and social activist Civic Chandran (Photo: IE Malayalam)

Granting anticipatory bail to writer and social activist Civic Chandran in a sexual harassment case, the Kozhikode sessions court in Kerala has observed that the charge under Section 354 (A) (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code would prima facie not be attracted if the woman was wearing “sexually provocative” dresses.

Chandran, who had furnished some photographs of the complainant with his bail plea, was granted anticipatory bail on August 12. Earlier, on August 2, he had obtained anticipatory bail in another sexual harassment case.

According to the prosecution, the alleged incident took place on February 8 this year at a camp convened by Chandran and others near Koyilandy in Kozhikode district. When the participants were returning after the camp, Chandran allegedly groped her and touched her inappropriately. The woman filed a complaint on July 29 and Chandran was booked under sections 354A (2), 341 and 354 of the IPC.

Granting anticipatory bail to Chandran, District Sessions Judge S Krishna Kumar said, “In order to attract Section 354 A (sexual harassment), there must be physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. There must be a demand or request for sexual favours. There must be a sexually coloured remark. The photographs produced with the anticipatory bail application by the accused reveal that the complainant herself is exposing to dresses which are sexually provocative. Section 354 A will not prima facie stand against the accused,’’ said the court.

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The court further said that it was impossible to believe that a 74-year-old physically disabled man could forcefully do things which he had been accused of. “…So, it is a case where an accused can be granted bail,’’ said the court.

The court observed that from the wordings of Section 354, it is very clear that there must be an intention on the part of the accused for outraging the modesty of a woman. “In order to attract this Section, there must be a physical contact and unwelcome, explicit sexual overtures…there must be a demand or request for sexual favours. There must be sexually coloured remarks,” the court observed.

Alleging that the woman had raised a false complaint against him, Chandran had questioned the delay in filing the complaint, claiming that it was a false case “cooked up by his enemies”. “The complainant had come to the camp with her boyfriend in the presence of many others, and nobody had raised such complaints against him,’’ he said.

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The court noted that the complainant woman is an educated lady fully aware of the consequences of a sexual assault. “Why she was reluctant to file the complaint has to be explained by her. But absolutely, no explanation is forthcoming,’’ observed the court.

The court further said that it is a settled proposition of law that when there is a long delay in lodging an FIR, it must be properly explained.

The prosecution pointed out that “it was the habit of the accused to molest lady poets” and pointed out that this was the second such case against him. More people were ready to register complaints against him, it said.

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The photographs of the woman, which Chandran produced in the court, were shared on social media by the woman herself.

CPM leader and Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson P Sathidevi expressed her concern over the court’s order. “It shows that the court has justified the atrocities against women, pointing at their dresses. It is really unfortunate. This verdict will send a wrong message in cases related to sexual harassment and atrocities,’’ she said.

First published on: 17-08-2022 at 11:49:04 am
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