Allegation of Molestation during AAP railly in Delhi – Bail granted to accused- Advocate Ravi Drall

Allegation of Molestation

False FIR was lodged in south Delhi under political reasons during a rally of AAP party. Complainant herself mounted on the stage and started to create ruckus upon which the officials of Delhi Police stopped her thereafter she lodged FIR against two workers of AAP party.

Anticipatory bail granted by the Hon’ble Sessions court after going through the allegations and one video played by Advocate Ravi Drall in court through lapotop. Considering the behaviour of the complainant and the allegation, joining of investigation, anticipatory bail was granted.

What does Section 354 IPC say

Section 354 IPC states that whoever assaults or makes the use of criminal force on any woman with the intention to outrage her modesty or knowing it to be likely outraging her modesty shall be liable for punishment under this section. The punishment is imprisonment of either description, which shall be a minimum of one year and may extend up to five years. Additionally, the fine shall also be levied. Hence, the punishment can be simple or rigorous imprisonment, depending on the discretion of the judge. Additionally, a fine shall be levied along with such imprisonment, which means that the offence is non-compoundable.

Essential ingredients of Section 354

The person assaulted must be a woman

The person against whom criminal force has been used has to be a woman. However, a woman who outrages the modesty of another woman shall also be punishable under this section.

Illustration‘A’, a man, assaulted and outraged the modesty of ‘B’, a woman. Here, A shall be punished under this section if he satisfies other ingredients.

Illustration: ‘A’, a woman, assaulted and outraged the modesty of ‘B’, a man. Here, A shall not be liable to be punished under this section since B is a man. However, A may be tried under other relevant sections of the IPC.

Illustration: ‘A’, a woman, assaulted and outraged the modesty of ‘B’, a woman. Here, A shall be punished under this Section if she satisfies other ingredients.

The accused must have made use of criminal force on her

The use of criminal force is a must under this Section. Criminal force is defined under Section 350 as intentionally using force against another person without such other person’s consent that leads to the commission of any offence or knowing that an injury, annoyance, or fear would be caused to the other person.

Criminal force must have been used to outrage her modesty

The test for outraging modesty was established in the case of State of Punjab v. Major Singh (1996). Intention and knowledge are the two main elements of this section. Though they are difficult to prove in a court of law, they can be derived from the facts of the case. The test, therefore, is whether the person using criminal force on a woman has the intention and knowledge that it will result in outraging the modesty of such a woman.

Hence, to constitute an offence under Section 354, an intention to outrage her modesty must be present. It is not enough that criminal force has been used against her. It must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the person had the intention to outrage the modesty of the woman.

In Ram Das v. State of W.B. (1954), two people engaged in a heated argument, due to which a man gave a push to a woman. The fight started since he was alleged to have looked at her ‘with lustful eyes. However, no evidence of the gesture was submitted. The Court acquitted him since there was no cogent evidence of his intention to outrage the modesty of the woman.

In SP Malik v. State of Orissa (1981), it was held that merely touching the belly of a female in a public bus without proving culpable intention of outraging the modesty will not qualify as an offence under this section.

Punishment for Section 354 IPC

There has been a lot of debate and criticism about the punishment prescribed under this Section. Earlier, the maximum punishment was two years imprisonment and a fine. Later, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 increased the punishment to five years of imprisonment, subject to a minimum of one year. A fine shall also be levied.  However, there are certain differences in the punishment accorded under state laws where the states have modified the punishment or enhanced the level of punishment.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

The criminal laws in the country were amended in the wake of the Nirbhaya case, which shook the entire country. The government constituted the Justice J.S. Verma Committee in order to revisit the laws and make the relevant amendments. Under this Act, the punishment was enhanced to a minimum term of one year which may extend up to five years and also liable for a fine. Such enhancements were made after a heinous gang rape incident. However, the country must not wait for another incident of this nature to happen to further enhance the punishment. Though the Section was amended, we still see that there are a significant number of rape cases in the country. Unless and until the legislature makes the punishment more stringent, the cases will only surmount. The National Bureau of Statistics establishes that cruelty by the woman’s husband and relatives constituted around three per cent of crimes against women

Recommendations of the Committee

Punishment for rape

The committee recommended that the punishment for rape be life imprisonment or rigorous imprisonment for at least seven years. But, causing the death of the woman or resulting in a permanent vegetative state would attract a minimum of twenty years of imprisonment. The same shall also apply to gang rape.

Recognised punishment for other sexual offences

The Committee has prescribed punishments for other sexual offences. For voyeurism (up to seven years of imprisonment), stalking or repeated contact with a person (up to three years), acid attacks (up to seven years), and trafficking (seven to ten years)sentences were prescribed.

Mandatory registration of marriage

One important recommendation is that all marriages in India have to be registered in the presence of a competent magistrate. This is to ensure a dowry free-marriage.

Other recommendations

  • A separate bill of rights for women to ensure better protection, sexual autonomy etc.
  • Review of the Armed Forces Special Protection Act for the inclusion of women in the armed forces.
  • Consideration of non-penetrative forms of sexual contact as sexual assault.

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