Obscene act in private place will be no offence

Bombay High Court: Quashing an FIR against men who were arrested from a party, a bench comprising of Naresh H Patil and A M Badar, JJ held that any obscene act in a private place causing no annoyance to others does not constitute an offence. In the present case, an FIR had been filed against 13 men after a journalist, who lived nearby, had complained that he spotted scantily dressed women dancing in their room and loud music blaring from there. He also complained that the women were making obscene gestures towards the men present in the room, and that the men were throwing money at these women. Following which the police conducted a raid and arrested these men under the Section 294, IPC.

Counsel for the petitioners argued that these acts took place in a private place and not a public place where anyone could have entered and hence were outside the purview of Section 294. The Court agreeing with the arguments, observed that viewed from this angle, the flat/apartment in a building owned by some private person meant for private use of such owner cannot be said to be a public place. The Court further observed that the FIR did not mention any offence other than obscenity and therefore they fail to understand as to how the FIR came to be registered and squashed the FIR. The Court added that the place where public have no right rather a lawful right to enter into, cannot be said to be a public place for invoking the penal provisions of section 294 of IPC. [Amardeep Singh Chudha vs. State of Maharashtra, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 2286, decided on Mar 10, 2016]

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