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Outraging the Modesty of a Woman- Section 354 IPC

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Outraging the Modesty of a Woman- Section 354 IPC

SECTION 354: ASSAULT OR CRIMINAL FORCE TO WOMAN WITH INTENT OF OUTRAGING THE MODESTY OF A WOMAN

I. INTRODUCTION & SCOPE

Outraging the Modesty of a Woman in S. 354 is an attribute associated with female human beings as a class. The essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex. Therefore, an indecent assault upon a woman is punishable under this section.  The act of pulling a woman, pulling of a woman by the armcoupled with a request for sexual intercourse are some instances of outraging the modesty of women.

Case Law : Ram Kirpal S/o SL Charmakar v. State of MP

Held : It was held that the test to determine as to whether an act classifies as outraging the modesty of a women is to see whether the action of the offender is such as could be perceived as one which is capable of shocking the sense of decency of woman.

II. ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS TO CLASSIFY AN ACT AS OUTRAGING THE MODESTY OF A WOMEN

For the application of this section, the following essentials must be satisfied :-

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  1. There must have been assault or use of criminal force on a woman;
  2. Such assault or use of criminal force must have been made;
  3. With intention to outrage her modesty; or
  4. With knowledge that her modesty was likely to be outraged.

III. EXPLANATION OF ESSENTIALS

  1. Meaning of Modesty – The word modesty has not been defined in the Code. However, in the leading case of Rupan Deol Bajaj v. Gill KPS, the Supreme Court while referring to the oxford dictionary observed that “modesty is the quality of being modest and in relation to woman means womanly propriety of behaviour; scrupulous chastity of thought, speech and conduct”.
  2. Intending or knowing – It is necessary that there must be intention or knowledge that the women’s modesty will be outraged. What constitute an outrage to female modesty has nowhere been defined. This will depend on the country and the race to which a woman belongs to. Under this section a man as well as a woman can be held guilty. However, there can be no outrage of woman’s modesty where she is a willing party.

Illustration :- To place hands on the shoulder of a woman will be an outrage on the modesty of a Hindu or Mahomedan woman, but not a European.

In Ram Kirpal’s case, it was held that deliberate intention of outraging the modesty is sine-qua-non for constituting the offence, mere knowledge that modesty is likely to be outraged is sufficient to constitute an offence.

Case Law :- State v. Major Singh

Held : The essence of woman’s modesty is her sex. The culpable intention of the accused is the crux of the matter. The reaction of the woman is very relevant but its absence is not always decisive. For example, if the accused with a corrupt mind touches the body of a woman, the offender will be punishable under this section even though the woman touched might be an idiot, sleeping, unable to appreciate the significance of the act.

  • Woman – S. 10 defines woman as a female human being of any age. In Tatai Mahadev case, it was held that the act of the accused is punishable under this section, because a girl though young was a woman as defined by S. 10.
  1. Procedure – It is cognizable, bailable, non compoundable and triable by any magistrate.
  2. Punishment – Whoever commits offence under this section  will be liable for imprisonment which shall not be less than one year and may extend to five years and fine. 
  3. Delay in lodging FIR – Delay cannot be a ground to arouse suspicion in every case. It can only be so when the delay is unexplained. It is but natural in a tradition bound society that to avoid harassment there is initial resistance in lodging FIR as the reputation of the woman is in issue.
  4. Quashing of Criminal Proceedings – An offence punishable under S. 354 is serious in nature and if a prima facie case is made out against the accused, it would not be proper to quash the proceedings by the High Court u/s 482 of Criminal Procedure Code.

SECTION 354-A: SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND PUNISHMENT FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT

I. SEXUAL HARASSMENT

This section provides that a man committing any of the following acts shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.

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  1. Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures or
  2. a demand or request for sexual favours or
  3. showing pornography against the will of a woman or
  4. making sexually coloured remarks.

II. PUNISHMENT

  1. A man who commits an offence specified in (1),(2),(3) will be liable for rigorous imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine or both.
  2. A man who commits offence specified in (4) will be liable for imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine or both.

III. PROCEDURE

  1. Procedure for offences specified in (1), (2), (3) – It is cognizable & bailable.
  2. Procedure for offence specified in (4) – It is cognizable & bailable.

SECTION 354-B: ASSAULT OR USE OF CRIMINAL FORCE TO WOMAN WITH INTENT TO DISROBE

I. INTRODUCTION

This section deals with assault or use of criminal force against a woman with intention to disrobe that women.

II. SCOPE

The following acts have been declared to be offences under this section :

  • assaulting a woman
  • using criminal force to any woman
  • abetting any of the above acts
  • such abetment must be with intention to disrobe woman or compelling her to be naked.

III. PUNISHMENT

A man who commits offences under this section will be liable for imprisonment which shall not be less than 3 years and may extend to seven years and fine.

IV. PROCEDURE

It is a cognizable, non bailable and triable by any magistrate.

SECTION 354- C: VOYEURISM

I. SCOPE

This section deals with the offence of voyeurism which means being happy or deriving pleasure simply by seeing a scene. It provides that any man who

  1. watches or
  2. captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or
  3. By any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or
  4.  Disseminates such recorded image

shall be liable under this section.

II. PUNISHMENT

A man who commits an offence under this section will be liable for imprisonment

On first conviction = which shall not be less than one year but may extend to three years and fine.

On subsequent conviction = which shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years and fine.

III. PRIVATE ACT  

The First explanation to the section gives the definition of private act. It basically defines it as watching an act which under the given circumstances is reasonably expected to be covered within privacy. It provides imprisonments for those acts which violate privacy.

The Second explanation says that if women has consented to capturing of image but not dissemination of it but despite of that the offender disseminates then such dissemination will be considered as an offence under this section.

V. PROCEDURE

First time offence = It is cognizable & bailable.

Subsequent offence = It is cognizable & non bailable.

SECTION 354 – D: STALKING

I. SCOPE

This section is pertaining to stalking. It makes two kinds of act punishable which are as follows :

  • Any man who follows a woman and contacts or attempts to contact such woman is treated is an offence. However, if there is an indication of interest by women to engage in personal interaction then it will not be an offence OR
  • Any man who monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication is also an offence.

II. EXCEPTIONS

This section also provides that above conduct would not amount to stalking :

  • If it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and such accused had the lawful authority.
  • If it was pursued to comply with any condition imposed under law.
  • In the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

III. PUNISHMENT

A man who commits offence under this section will be liable for an imprisonment on first conviction which may extend to three years and fine.

Second & Subsequent conviction = 5 years plus fine.

IV. PROCEDURE

First time offence = It is cognizable & bailable.

Subsequent offence = It is cognizable & non bailable.


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