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Assault not enough, proving intent must in cases of molestation- Bombay High Court

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Mumbai High CourtMumbai High Court

Justice Badar said if a quarrel takes place, for which both parties are more or less to be blamed, then it cannot be held that in the resultant scuffle between the accused and the victim, the accused intended or knew it to be likely that he will thereby outrage the victim’s modesty.

Mumbai: Observing that an assault on a woman cannot alone constitute the charges of outraging her modesty, and there must be presence of ‘intention’ of the accused to outrage her modesty, the Bombay High Court has set aside conviction of three accused.

The observation has been made by a single-judge bench of Justice Anant Badar while hearing a revision petition filed by Swarupchand Kankaria and his sons. The trio had challenged the decision of a trial court that convicted them for offences punishable under the charges of outraging modesty of a woman.


It was the prosecution’s case that Swarupchand along with two of his sons had outraged the modesty of a woman by pulling her hand along with her saree which resulted in her falling on the floor.

After going through the records of the case, Justice Badar said, “To constitute an offence under Section 354 of the IPC, an intention to outrage her modesty of a woman must be present.”

“Intention is certainly a mental state of a person and as such it is difficult to procure direct evidence to prove the intention of the accused,” Justice Badar added.

Justice Badar  however clarified that intention is not the ‘sole’ criteria of this offence. “It can also be said to have been committed by the 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,” Justice Badar’s ruling reads.

While allowing the petition partly, Justice Badar said, “Merely twisting the hand causing fall of a woman or catching hold of a corner of her saree during the cause of a quarrel cannot be called a deliberate act of outraging the modesty of a female within the meaning of Section 354 of the IPC.”

Referring to the instant case, Justice Badar has said that if a quarrel suddenly takes place, for which both parties are more or less to be blamed, then it cannot be held that in the resultant scuffle between the accused and the victim, the accused intended or knew it to be likely that they will thereby outrage the victim’s modesty.