Actor Nana Patekar, against whom an FIR has been filed based on a complaint by actress Tanushree Dutta, may not have to face the stricter provisions of the amended laws against sexual harassment as the alleged incident took place in 2008, when the offences he is booked for were bailable.
In the FIR filed by Oshiwara police late on Wednesday, Patekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya, director Rakesh Sarang and producer Samee Siddiqui, have been booked under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) under the Indian Penal Code. Both sections are bailable.
A senior police officer said that since the FIR is recorded based on the law in place at the time of the alleged incident in 2008, the sections invoked in the FIR are 354 and 509, which are bailable. An amendment to the law was made through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, after protests across the country following the gangrape and death of a 23-year-old Delhi woman in December 2012.
The law was amended based on recommendations of a judicial committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma, which extended the scope of sexual harassment, including offences like stalking, voyeurism, physical contact involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures with a maximum punishment of seven years. The provisions were also made non-bailable.
“The previous law dealing with sexual harassment was limited in its definition. The amendment has brought stringent provisions. But it cannot be applied in a retrospective manner for an incident that took place before the amendment in 2013,” said advocate Flavia Agnes, who founded Majlis Manch, a legal centre for women’s rights.
In the two-page complaint submitted by Dutta against Patekar and the others, she has said the accused behaved in an inappropriate manner on the set of film Horn Ok Pleasss at Filmistan Studio in Goregaon in March 2008.