The college Principal's chamber is a 'public place' as contemplated under Section 294 (Obscene acts and songs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has said.
The high court has restored an order of the magistrate court in Murtizapur, Maharashtra, issuing process against a college principal for offences under Sections 294 (obscenity), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
Principal's action an obscene act: Court
Justice Anil Pansare remarked that obscene words allegedly uttered by the Principal to his colleagues inside his chamber in front of three other professors would amount to an obscene act.
Restoring the case, the HC said: “The Sessions Court, however, took an erroneous view that the Principal's Chamber is not a public place.”
“As regards public place, the act has been committed in the Respondent No.2's Chamber, which is situated in the College premises. The College premises is admittedly a public place, as the students, teachers, staff and other such persons connected with the College have access to the building, in which the Chamber of the Principal is located. In that sense, the Chamber of the Principal could be said to be a public place,” the court added.
The court was hearing a plea by a librarian against the Akola Sessions Court's order which had found the principal not guilty and set aside the Magistrate's order.
Principal abuses petitioner in presence of staff
On November 11, 2020, the college principal allegedly abused the petitioner using obscene language in his chamber, where three other staff members were also present.
The librarian filed a complaint but the investigating officer had registered a non-cognizable offence. He then approached the magistrate court, which took cognisance of the complaint and issued a process against the principal.
On the principal’s appeal, the sessions court set aside the magistrate’s order stating that the principal's chamber was not a public place and no video evidence was placed on record by the librarian.
The librarian then approached the HC against the sessions court order.
The HC observed that the college premises where the Principal's chamber is located is a public place accessible to all. It also noted that the petitioner had submitted a pen drive containing video evidence of the incident.
“In the present case, abusive words uttered by the Respondent No.2 are…. This act can be said to be an obscene act. The act committed can be said to be an obscene act committed to the annoyance of the others,” the HC noted.