Mumbai Court: Section 354 is Gender Neutral, Women Can Also be Held Guilty Under This Provision

Gavel Law Insider

Sakina Tashrifwala

Published on: 28 November 2022 at 22:50 IST

A Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrates Court found that Section 354 of the IPC was gender neutral with regard to the perpetrator and sentenced a mother of three to one year of severe jail for violating the modesty of another lady.

The Metropolitan Magistrate Manoj Vasantrao Chavan said, “Section 354 of the IPC operates equality against all persons whether males or females and it cannot be contended that woman is free from any punishment under this Section.”

The bench emphasised that Section 354 IPC is “not a sexual offence,” but rather falls under the chapter of “Criminal Force and Assault,” and that using criminal force with the intent or knowledge to offend a woman’s modesty is one of its necessary ingredients.

As a result, Rovena Bhosale was found guilty under sections 323 and 354 of the IPC of beating her neighbour and pulling off her nightgown in front of numerous witnesses on September 19, 2020 as a result of a protracted argument.

Six witnesses, including two of their neighbours who saw the entire episode, were questioned by the prosecution. One of them testified in court that the victim had been stripped naked after being hit with a shoe. The accused’s advocate countered that both women are neighbours and that there was no desire to offend her modesty. The APP claimed that all claims against the accused were proven. A lady was not covered by the provision.

The accuser was said to have been envious of her mother’s and the victim’s tight relationship, according to the prosecution. Two children are raised by the victim.

The bench initially believed the neighbours’ allegations to be credible. According to the judge, a woman “may assault or use criminal force to any other woman as equally and effectively as any man” in accordance with Section 354 IPC. Furthermore, just by virtue of being a woman, a woman is not “incapable” of outraging the modesty of another woman.

Based on Section 8 of the IPC, the bench determined that the pronoun “he” used in Section 354 IPC might refer to either a male or a girl. It is so evident that under Section 354 IPC, both men and women can be charged with the crime of assaulting or using unlawful force against any woman with the intent or knowledge that the lady’s modesty will be offended and that they will be punished for the crime.

By assaulting the informant and shredding her nightgown, the accused has violated the informant’s right to privacy, the judge said, citing the evidence that was submitted. The court ruled that when force is employed against a woman, it is done so either against her will or without her agreement.

In the absence of strong supporting evidence, the bench rejected accusations of verbal abuse made against the accused. The Probation of Offender Act of 1958 benefit for the accused was further rejected. Given that she is a woman, the accused should show caution and consideration for the informant.

The accused was given the very minimum punishment required by the provision, despite the fact that the court took into account that she was a mother of three, with the youngest kid being just 1.5 years old.

Related Post