Our sisters and daughters must feel safe when walking on streets: Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Our sisters and daughters must feel safe when they walk down on the streets, observed the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court while sentencing a boy, who outraged the modesty of a girl by touching her inappropriately during a religious procession.

A single-judge bench of Justice Swapna Joshi noted that the boy had zero regard to women's chastity and dignity. The judge, accordingly said that the accused must thus be taught a lesson.

The court was seized with a plea filed by the boy challenging his conviction by a lower court for outraging modesty of the teenager from his village.

As per the prosecution case, the victim girl along with other girls and boys of her village had participated in an annual religious procession. She along with other children was dancing and suddenly the accused caught hold of her tight from behind and touched her inappropriately.

The girl, as per her testimony before the lower court, immediately pushed the accused aside and ran to her house. She then narrated the entire incident to her parents, who then took her to the accused boy's house.

The prosecution claimed that the accused and his family then assaulted and threatened the victim and her parents after which they rushed to the local police station and lodged an FIR against the boy.

The lower court had convicted the boy for outraging the victim's modesty coupled with a few provisions of the stringent POCSO act.

However, Justice Joshi, after scrutinising the material on record, noted that the prosecution failed to prove the girl's age as 15 and thus quashed the conviction to the extent to which the boy was punished under POCSO.

But while upholding his conviction under outraging modesty, Justice Joshi said, "Always, the sentence should be in-proportion to the atrocities committed by the accused. The accused is young person who has total disregard to women’s dignity and chastity."

The judge noted that the conduct of the accused boy cannot be taken lightly and he doesn't deserve any leniency.

"If lesser sentence has been awarded then it would pass signal that sisters and daughters of our society are not safe. In other words, the courts of law which are meant for justice are not taking seriously such kind of offences," the judge said.

"Therefore, to pass a strong message to the like minded persons and to teach a lesson to the accused, certain term of corporal punishment is necessary," Justice Joshi added, while upholding the conviction.

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