It is now becoming a trend to register FIRs alleging sexual harassment cases to force a party to withdraw complaint or to arm twist a party
Laishram Premila Devi and Ors Vs The State and Ors
About/from the judgment:
Ruling that time has come to initiate action against persons who file frivolous complaints under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D IPC etc. only for an ulterior purpose, the High Court recently imposed a cost of Rs.30,000 on the petitioners with a warning not to file false and frivolous cases.
The High Court sternly remarked that it is now becoming a trend to register FIRs alleging offences under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D IPC either to force a party from withdrawing a complaint instituted against them or to arm-twist a party.
It may be noted that S. 354 of IPC deals with the offence of Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, S. 354-A relates to the offence of Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment, S. 354B is related to the offence of Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe, S. 354C deals with the offence of Voyeurism and S. 354D deals with Stalking.
The matter before the Court
CRL.M.C. 533/2021 & 534/2021 were filed for quashing FIR No.239/2017 and 238/2017 (both registered alleging offence under Sections 509, 506, 323, 341, 354, 354A and 34 IPC) respectively and the Complainant in FIR No. 238/2017 happened to be the accused in FIR No.239/2017.
It was submitted that with the intervention of some common friends, relatives and family members, the parties have settled their dispute and an oral settlement has been reached between the parties.
It was also stated that both the parties, the petitioners and respondents in CRL.M.C. 533/2021 and CRL.M.C. 534/2021, have realised their mistake and they had decided to compromise the matter.
As per the said oral settlement, the parties agreed that they would approach the Court for the quashing of the abovementioned FIRs and thus, it was requested that the FIRs be quashed as the dispute had been amicably resolved.
At the outset, the Court noted that offences under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D IPC are serious offences and that such allegations have the effect of tarnishing the image of the person against whom such allegations are made.
Further, the Court opined that allegations regarding these offences cannot be made at a drop of a hat. This practice is an abuse of the process of law.
About the instant case, the Court noted that it is a 'classic example' as to how frivolous allegations of Section 354 and 354A have been levelled by the parties against each other.
The Court observed that a small fight regarding parking was escalated by levelling allegation of outraging the modesty of women.
"This court can take judicial notice of the fact that the police force is very limited. Police personnel have to spend time in investigating frivolous cases. They have to attend court proceedings, prepare Status Report etc. The result is that investigation in serious offences gets compromised and accused escape because of shoddy investigation", remarked the Court.
However, in view of the mutual settlement arrived at between the parties, the Court was satisfied that no useful purpose will be served in prosecuting with the present proceedings.
Resultantly, the FIR No.238/2017 and FIR No.239/2017 and the proceedings emanating therefrom were quashed.
Significantly, noting that the Police had to spend valuable time in investigating the offence and considerable time was spent by the Court in the criminal proceedings initiated by the parties, the Court thought it fit to impose a cost on the petitioners with a warning not to file false and frivolous cases.
Thus, the petitioners in both CRL.M.C. 533/2021 & CRL.M.C.534/2021 were directed to deposit a sum of Rs.30,000/-(Rupees Thirty Thousand Only) with 'DHCBA Lawyers Social Security and Welfare Fund' within three weeks.
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