The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has observed that throwing a chit professing love for a married woman amounts to outraging her modesty and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the accused while directing it to be paid to the victim as compensation.
Hearing the matter on August 4, Justice Rohit Deo said the very act of throwing a chit on a married woman, that professes love for her and contains poetic verses, is “sufficient to outrage her modesty”.
The Akola sessions court had earlier convicted the accused, Shrikrushna Tawari, under Indian Penal Code Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and sentenced him to two years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 40,000, of which Rs 35,000 was to be paid as compensation to the victim.
The 45-year-old victim had on October 4, 2011 lodged a complaint at the Civil Lines police station in Akola, alleging that on October 3 that year the accused, who owned a grocery shop in their neighbourhood, approached her when she was washing utensils and tried to hand over a chit.
When the woman refused to accept the chit, the applicant threw it on her and left muttering “I love you”. The next day, he made obscene gestures and warned her not to disclose the contents of the note to anyone, the woman alleged.
She also alleged that the accused had flirted with her on several occasions and used to throw small pebbles at her.
On the basis of contents of the chit and other material on record, the Akola sessions court had held the accused guilty of offences punishable under IPC Sections 354, 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
The accused challenged the sessions court verdict by filing a criminal revision application, contending the victim had filed a false complaint, and approached the HC.
Justice Deo while hearing the matter said the very act of throwing a chit on a 45-year-old married woman, that professes love for her and contains poetic verses, albeit extremely, purely written, is “sufficient to outrage her modesty”.
“The modesty of a woman is her most precious jewel and there cannot be a straitjacket formula to ascertain whether modesty is outraged,” he observed.
Justice Deo further said he had no reason to disbelieve the victim’s evidence that the applicant threw a chit on her containing objectionable material. No fault can be found with the concurrent finding that the applicant did outrage her modesty.
The evidence of the victim that the applicant used to flirt, make gestures like pouting of lips, and on occasions hit her with small pebbles is confidence inspiring and in exercise of revisional jurisdiction, he noted.
The high court observed that the accused deserves a chance to reform and further incarceration is not likely to be of any avail, as he has already undergone 45 days of incarceration.
Moreover, considering the date of the incident and commission of offence, as the provisions of law stood then, there was no minimum sentence provided for offence punishable under Section 354 of the IPC, it said.
The high court, however, enhanced the fine amount by Rs 50,000 to total Rs 90,000, to be deposited in the trial court and paid as compensation to the victim, and disposed of the plea.
The HC further said the trial magistrate shall ensure the victim is made aware of this judgement, and the enhanced fine is duly paid to her or to her legal heirs, if, due to death or any other reason, the victim is not available.