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Touching feet of woman without consent amounts to outraging her modesty

Touching feet of woman without consent amounts to outraging her modesty

Parmeshwar Dhage Vs State of Maharashtra

Bombay HC



About/from the judgment:

The High Court held that touching any part of a woman’s body without her consent, specially in the dead of the night by a stranger, amounts to outraging her modesty punishable under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code(IPC).

The court held so in an appeal filed by one Parmeshwar Dhage sentenced to a year in prison by the trial court for touching the feet of a woman while she was sleeping.

“Touching any part of the body of a woman without her consent that too in the dead hour of the night by a stranger amounts to violation of modesty of a woman," the Court said.

It also placed reliance on precedents to hold that the ultimate test for ascertaining whether the modesty of a woman has been outraged is whether an act could be perceived as “one which is capable of shocking the sense of decency of a woman."

In the instant case, the Court noted that the accused was sitting at the feet of the victim on her cot and had touched her feet.

“This behaviour smacks of sexual intent. Otherwise, there was no reason for the accused to be in the house of the victim at such an odd hour of the night...The accused was capable of shocking sense decency of any woman,” the order stated.

The complainant’s case was that on July 4, she and her grandmother-in-law were at home while her husband was out of town. The accused, who was her neighbour, had come to her house at around 8 pm and had enquired about her husband. At this point, the complainant informed that her husband was not returning for the night.

The complainant later went to sleep after closing the main door but without bolting the door to her room.

At about 11 pm the complainant sensed that someone was touching her feet. When she woke up, she found the accused sitting by her feet and she screamed. This woke her grandmother-in-law while the accused ran away in the commotion.

After her husband returned the next morning, she filed a complaint against the accused.

During the course of the trial, the defence was in total denial. The accused claimed that he was not present at the spot of the incident.

The defence pleaded that since the woman and her grandmother-in-law were alone in the house, in normal circumstances the ladies would bolt the door from inside and since they did not, it indicated that the accused entered with consent.

Finally, it was contended that the accused had merely tried to touch the feet of the woman and there was no sexual intent.

The trial court convicted him for offences under Sections 451 (house trespass) and 354A (sexual harassment) of IPC and sentenced him to one year imprisonment.

On enquiry by the Court, the defence was unable to give a satisfactory answer as to why the accused was present in the house of the woman in the middle of the night.

The Court noted that the accused had learnt in the evening from the victim that her husband would not be present in the house in the night.

“This clearly indicated that the accused had gone there with sexual intent and violated the modesty of the informant. Therefore, learned trial court did not commit any error in holding that the accused had molested the woman," the Court.

The Court also accepted the reason for not bolting the door to her room which the complainant claimed was not working.

In view of the observations, the High Court rejected the appeal and revision and refused to interfere with the lower court order.

Read the Judgment


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