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Karnataka High Court Refuses To Quash Fir For Outraging Woman's Modesty By Writing Her Mobile Number On Toilet Wall

tanushka gupta ,
  20 June 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
High Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru
Brief :

Citation :
Criminal Petition No. 1995 of 2022

CAUSE TITLE:

Alla Baksha Patel v. State of Karnataka & ors.

DATE OF ORDER:

04 June 2024

JUDGE(S):

Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. Nagaprasanna 

PARTIES:

Petitioner Alla Baksha Patel

Respondent: The State Of Karnataka & ors.

SUBJECT: 

The case is all about a complaint filed by CW-5 regarding inappropriate calls and life threats, linked to her mobile number being written on the walls of men’s toilet, depicting her as a call girl. An investigation was conducted leading to the filing of chargesheet under sections 501, 504, 507 and 509 of the IPC. The petitioner argued that and highlighted procedural loopholes, citing non-cognizable offenses and insufficient evidence. However, the court considered the gravity of the offense as it was outraging a woman’s modesty and violating her privacy. After a meticulous analysis and referencing several precedents, the petition was dismissed by the court, underscoring that such cases must be resolved in a full trial.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

Section 501 IPC: This section deals with the acts of printing pr engraving matter known to be defamatory.

Section 504 IPC: This section states that whoever intentionally insults and provoked any person, intending or knowing that such provocation will cause him to break public peace, or to commit any other offense, shall be punished with imprisonment.

Section 507 IPC: This section states that if a person commits the offense of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication shall be punished with imprisonment.

Section 509 IPC: This section states that a person intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object or intrudes her privacy, shall be punished. 

Section 2 (c) of CrPC: This section explains cognizable offenses in which police officer may arrest without a warrant.

Section 155(2) of CrPC: This section states that permission from the magistrate is required to file an FIR for non-cognizable offenses.

BRIEF FACTS:

  1. CW-5, the complainant filed a complaint on 19.03.2020. in the Police station regarding inappropriate phone calls asking indecorous questions and hurling life threats.
  2. On enquiry, she got to know that her mobile number was written on the walls of gents toilet at Majestic bus stand, Banglore depicting her as a call girl.
  3. Police conducted investigation and filed a chargesheet against the petitioner and another for offenses punishable under Sections 501, 504, 507, and 509 of the IPC.
  4. In the order dated 09.03.2022, the court granted interim order of stay because the offenses initially registered under Section 504 and 506 of the IPC were non cognizable. For non-cognizable offenses, permission of magistrate is required. In the present case, the permission was granted. 
  5. As a result. All further proceedings were paused and this interim order stayed in effect, preventing further trial against the petitioner.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER: 

  1. The learned counsel contended that the crime registered under Crime No. 60 of 2020 came under the ambit of Sections 504 and 506 of the IPC, which are non-cognizable offenses. The stated that it was the duty of the Magistrate to meticulously examine the case before granting permission to register FIR. He also referred the case of Vaggeppa Gurulinga Jangaligi v. State of Karnataka [Vaggeppa Gurulinga Jangaligi v. State of Karnataka, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 2708] and claimed that only evidence against the petitioner found during the investigation was CW’s-5 statement. He highlighted the lack of evidence against the petitioner.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENTS:

  1. The learned counsel contended that the complainant was not aware of the specific offenses while filing the complaint. It was due responsibility of the police to register the crime under appropriate provisions. Moreover, the complainant had provided all relevant materials which also included 20 pages of call records and a compact disc, to the Police Superintendent. He further submitted that the actions of the petitioner clearly constituted a cognizable offense under Section 509 of the IPC. Therefore, the Magistrate’s permission was irrelevant. He argued that the interim order posed significant prejudice to the complainant and requested its dismissal.
  2. Further, the learned Additional Special Public Prosecutor, Sri B.N. Jagadeesh, representing the state, contended that the documents collected while filing the chargesheet clearly implicated that the petitioner was guilty of writing on the walls. He also posited that the matter should come under the ambit of trial where the petitioner would also be getting fair opportunity to prove his innocence.

ANALYSIS BY THE COURT

  1. The court meticulously went through the submissions made by both the sides and perused the material on record. The court stated that the issue originated at a Primary Health Centre in Chitradurga District where CW-5 (COMPLAINANT) and another Smt. Kamalamma worked together. The complainant received inappropriate calls at odd hours asking indecorous questions and also casting life threats. She filed a complaint before the jurisdictional Police Station at Chitradurga. The crime was registered in Crime No. 22/2020 for the offenses punishable under Sections 504 and 506 of the IPC after obtaining the permission from the learned Magistrate of the jurisdiction. Then the case was transferred to Upparpet Police Station, Banglore as the complaint was regarding writing on the wall of toilet for men in Majestic Bus Stop, Banglore. It then becomes a crime here in Crime No. 60 of 2020. No permission of the learned Magistrate was required again as the crime was already registered.
  2. The issue of finding the culprit arose as the crime was registered against an unknown person. The complainant narrated that her phone number was with Shilpa who further confessed that she had given the number to Alla Baksh Patel @ A.B. Patel, the petitioner. Shilpa further confessed that she had instructed A.B. Patel to write the number on the wall men’s toilet depicting the complainant to be a call girl.
  3. After perusing the summary of the chargesheet, considering sections 501, 504, 507 and 509 of IPC deemed fit to the court. The facts of the case aligned with the aforementioned provisions as the complainant’s privacy was intruded and her modesty was outraged.
  4. Moreover, regarding the reference of the case Vaggeppa Gurulinga Jangaligi, the court stated that the facts of the complainant’s case were different and the errors made by the police while filing a chargesheet should not let the victim suffer. 
  5. The court stated that mere lack of thorough consideration by the Magistrate while using the term “permitted” could not absolve the accused. Additionally, the police implicated the accused only after an investigation and not at the initial stage when the complaint was registered. Thus, the petitioner’s argument that the Magistrate did not use proper application of mind did not invalidate the entire proceedings.
  6. Further the court referred to the case of Rupan Deol Bajaj v. Kanwar Pal Singh Gill [Rupan Deol Bajaj v. Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, (1995) 6 SCC 194] which addressed the interplay between Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC encompassing the modesty of a woman. The court emphasized that any act outraging the modesty of a woman cannot be taken casually. 
  7. The court referred to the case of Raju Pandurang Mahale v. State of Maharashtra [Raju Pandurang Mahale v. State of Maharashtra, (2004) 4 SCC 371] and highlighted that although the term ‘modesty’ is not clearly defined in the IPC, it is described as "womanly propriety of behavior; scrupulous chastity of thought, speech, and conduct." The essence of a woman's modesty is her sex, and the culpable intention of the accused is crucial. Acts such as pulling a woman's saree or making inappropriate requests can outrage a woman's modesty. Modesty involves decency in behavior, speech, and conduct, and is characterized by an aversion to impure or coarse suggestions.
  8. The court also referred to the case of State of Punjab v. Major Singh [AIR 1967 SC 63 1967 Cri LJ 11966 Supp SCR 286] where the Supreme Court emphasized the presence of intention and knowledge in determining the liability under section 509 of the IPC. These two elements can be inferred from the circumstances.
  9. In light of the aforementioned judgements by the Apex Court, the petitioner’s argument that mere writing on wall does not constitute an offense or that CW-5's statement is insufficient evidence cannot be considered under Section 482 of the IPC. The issues should be addressed in a trial. The court stated that sexual violence against a woman, intrusion of her privacy and personal integrity poses serious psychological harms. Outraging a woman’s modesty through speech, writing or gesture constitutes a serious offense.
  10. The court put forth a conclusion that writing on the wall clearly came under the ambit of Sections 509, 501, 504 and 507 of the IPC and rejected the petition leading to the disposal of all pending applications accordingly.

CONCLUSION

After thorough consideration of evidence and arguments presented by both the sides, the court concluded that the act of the petitioner falls under Section 509, 501, 504, and 507 of the IPC. It is highlighted that any offense against a woman’s modestly cannot be taken casually. Any act that violates a woman’s modesty, privacy and personal integrity will come under the ambit of serious offense.
 

 
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