Bombay High Court: Rohit B. Deo, J., expressed that,
The modesty of a woman is her most precious jewel and there cannot be a straitjacket formula to ascertain whether modesty is outraged.
Applicant was convicted for offence punishable under Sections 354, 509 and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860.
Mrs “S” is happily married to PW 1 Mr “R”. She was aged 45 years as on the date of incident. PW 3 is her son.
It was stated that applicant had approached Mrs “S” when she was washing utensils and tried to hand over a chit, which she refused to accept and the applicant threw the same on her person and left muttering “I Love You”.
The next morning, applicant made obscene gestures and warned her not to disclose the contents of the chit to anyone. Further, it was alleged that even prior to the incident, the applicant was flirting with her and used to throw small pebbles on her person.
Culmination of the investigation led to the submission of the final report and the applicant abjured guilt.
Magistrate and the appellate Court on the basis of content of the chit and other material on record, held the accused guilty of offences punishable under Sections 354, 506 and 509 of the Penal Code, 1860.
Analysis, Law and Decision
Bench opined that from the evidence on record, that there was no material except a bald general statement that some threat was issued, to bring home the charge under Section 506 IPC.
The sine qua non-ingredients of Section 506 is criminal intimidation as defined in Section 503 of the IPC.
Court stated that a bare perusal of Section 503 IPC would reveal that the threat must be with intent to cause injury either to person, reputation or property and the intent must be to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do.
Further, the High Court added that the nature of the threat, the words used, whether the words used were such as would cause alarm and whether the complainant/informant as a fact was alarmed, are aspects within the realm of speculation.
Hence, the conviction recorded under Section 506 IPC is unsustainable.
Outrage the modesty of a woman
Court elaborated that, Mrs “S” was a married woman, aged 45 years and the very act of throwing a chit on her person which professes love for her, and which contains poetic verses, albeit extremely, purely written is sufficient to outrage the modesty of a woman.
No fault was found with the concurrent finding that the applicant did outrage her modesty. The evidence of Mrs “S” that the applicant used to flirt, make gestures like pouting of lips, on occasions used to hit her with small pebbles was confidence-inspiring and in exercise of revisional jurisdiction.
Bench found no reason to interfere with the conviction recorded under Sections 354 and 509 of IPC.
Applicant had already undergone 45 days of incarceration and considering the date of the incident or commission of offence, as the provisions of law stood the, there was no minimum sentence provided for offence punishable under Section 354 IPC.
It was only by the 2013 amendment that a minimum sentence was provided.
In view of the above Court modified the sentence of imprisonment imposed under Sections 354 and 509 IPC to the period already undergone.
The amount of fine was enhanced to Rs 50,000 for offence punishable under Section 354 IPC and Rs 40,000 for offence punishable under Section 509 IPC. In addition to the amount of Rs 35,000/- which is to be paid to the victim/informant by virtue of the trial Magistrate’s order, the additional fine of Rs 50,000/- imposed by this judgment, shall also be paid to the informant/victim. [Shrikrushna v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Revision No. 90 of 2020, decided on 4-08-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
Mr A. S. Siddiqui, Advocate h/f Mr A. M. Tirukh, Advocate for the applicant
Mr N. S. Rao, A.P.P. for the State/respondent