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  • Metropolitan Magistrate of Mumbai in a recent decision held that Section 354 IPC is gender neutral and the offender, a mother of three was convicted and sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment for outraging a woman's modesty.
  • Magistrate Manoj Vasantrao Chavan noted that Section 354 IPC applies equally to all males and females and no woman is exempted from any punishment under the dame.
  • The bench remarked that section 353 is not s sexual offence but falls under the category of "Criminal Force and Assault"
  • To constitute an offence of outraging a woman's modesty, there must be elements of criminal force with intent or knowledge to outrage the modesty of a woman.
  • Rovena Bhosale, the accused convicted under Sections 323 and 354 of IPC for assaulting her neighbor and treating her nightdress in front of several people as a result of the long-standing dispute, on 19 September, 2020.
  • Six witnesses were examined by the prosecution including two other neighbors who witnesses the incident.
  • One of them told the court that the victim was beaten by a shoe and was fully naked when her night dress was ripped off.
  • Assistant Public Prosecutor contended that sell the charges were proved against the accused and the advocate counsel of the accused counter-argued that both were women and there was no intention to out rage the victim's modesty and the section does not apply to women.
  • The prosecution alleged that the motive begins the act was the close relationship between the accused's mother and the victim.
  • The bench found the statements of the neighbors believable at the outset and concerning Section 354, it was held that "woman can assault or use criminal force to any other woman as equally and effectively as any man."
  • A woman is capable of outraging the modesty of other women and the mere fact that she is a woman does not rule out the fact.
  • As per Section 8 of IPC, it is to be noted the gender pronouns are neutral and the word "he" in Section 354 applies to women also.
  • Referring to the evidence on record, the court noted that "by beating the informant and tearing her nightie, the accused has infringed the right of privacy of the informant."
  • The force used against women amounts to criminal force if it was imposed against her consent or will.
  • The bench dismissed the allegations of verbal abuse placed against the accused due to a lack of substantial corroboration.
  • The accused was denied the benefit under the Probation of Offender Act, 1958, and was said that the accused being woman should have been protective and sensitive towards the informant.
  • The court finally considered that since the accused was a mother of three with her youngest child being only 1.5 years old, she was awarded the minimum punishment within the section.
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