Merely moving hand over the back and head of a minor girl without any sexual intent does not amount to outraging her modesty, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court remarked while quashing the conviction of a 28-year-old man. The case dates back to 2012 when the convict, then 18 years old, was booked on charges of outraging the modesty of a 12-year-old girl. According to the victim, the accused had moved his hand on her back and head and commented that she had grown up. The order was passed on February 10 and was made available on March 13.
A single bench of Justice Bharati Dangre, while setting aside the conviction, noted there was no sexual intent on the part of the convict and that his utterance indicate he had seen the victim as a child. "In order to outrage the modesty of a woman, what is most important is having an intention to outrage the modesty. It is not the case of the prosecution that the accused did something more than what has been alleged, that is, moving his hand over the back and head of the victim.
"Neither the victim girl aged 12-13 years spoke of any bad intention on his part, but what she deposed is she felt bad or indicating some unpleasant act, which made her uncomfortable," the judge said in the order. The HC further said the prosecution failed to produce any material to show there was a specific intention on part of the appellant to outrage the modesty of the girl.
"In absence of a specific intention being established by the prosecution to outrage the modesty, it is not understood as to how Section 354 has been invoked and even held to be proved, with the specific version that the victim was frightened at the accused touching her on her back and saying that she has grown up," the court said.
The utterance by the accused definitely indicates he had seen her as a child and, hence, he said that she has grown up, the bench added. As per the prosecution, on March 15, 2012, the appellant, who was then 18 years old, visited the victim's house when she was alone to give some documents.
He then touched her back and head and said she has grown up, and the girl got uncomfortable and shouted for help, as per the prosecution. The man, who was convicted by the trial court and sentenced to six months in jail, had filed an appeal against the order in HC. In its order, the HC said the trial court had erred as the present case, prima facie, appeared to be an impromptu action with no sexual intent.