Calcutta High Court: In the light of the increasing misuse of laws combating crime against women, while deciding the question that whether any assault or criminal force as under Section 354 IPC was used on the informant with the intent to outrage her modesty, the Court held that during an altercation, a woman, if touched or pushed accidentally in a wrongful manner, the same cannot said to be done with an intention to outrage her modesty and hence, it will not attract the provisions of Section 354 IPC.
In the instant case, owing to an ongoing civil dispute between the landlord and the tenant, a heated exchange took place between the party and the informant, where the petitioner allegedly pushed the informant from the front touching her. The petitioner, through his counsel Mr Rajdeep Majumdar, argued that there was no intention on the part of the petitioner to outrage her modesty and accidental or unintentional touching of a lady during physical altercation will not come in the Section 354 IPC which was refuted by the State, represented by Mr Pawan Kr. Gupta and the counsel for the private opposite party Mr. Iqbal Hussain.
The Court observing the Section 354 IPC and Supreme Court decisions in Vidyadharan v. State of Kerala, (2004) 1 SCC 215, and Rupan Deol Bajaj v. Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, (1995) 6 SCC 194, observed that intention must be proved for this offence but intention is not the sole criteria for conviction as the offence can be committed by a person assaulting or using criminal force to any woman, if he knows that by such act the modesty of the woman is likely to be affected. On the basis of the facts and the rulings of the Supreme Court, the Court found that there is no use of assault or criminal force on the informant intending to outrage or knowing that it will likely outrage her modesty therefore the informant may complain for physical harassment. Sumit Kumar Gupta v. State of West Bengal, CRR 3236 of 2014, decided on 22.04. 2014
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