In a recent case, a court in Hisar, Haryana, have acquitted a man and his handicapped brother who were accused of molestation by their neighbour. The complainant had visited a local police station and orally recorded the incident of misconduct with the women cell.
Allegations by Woman:
The complainant alleged that two men, Hemant (name changed) and his brother Puneet (name changed), who lived in her neighbourhood had been making her uncomfortable with their actions since sometime. She accused them of making vulgar gestures whenever they would see her and she also accused them of stripping naked in front of her. They also blew whistles at her and passed abusive remarks everytime they saw her.
The woman also stated that they often tried to block her passage and even tried to hold her hand, trying to intimidate her on several occasions. She alleged that on November 26, 2017, both of the boys repeated all these activities while all the male members of the complainant’s family were out of the house.
On the basis of statement of the complainant, the present case was registered. Investigation commenced and accused were arrested. Statement of witnesses were recorded as well. Finding a prima facie case from material on record, accused were charge sheeted by the Court for offence under:
- Section 354A (1) (i) (iii)
- Section 509
- Section 341
- Section 506 read with Section 34
…of the Indian penal Code, to which the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
Statements of accused under were recorded Section 313 Cr.P.C. in the form of question answer wherein accused have denied all the allegations and pleaded false implication. Assistant Public Prosecutor for the State and learned defence counsel went through the case file. Prosecution in the present case has proceeded on the premise that on November, 26, 2017, accused on their common intention sexually harassed the woman and also outraged her modesty by making sexual gestures.
However, there was no evidence of the husband of the complainant or any other family member to the effect that efforts for dissuading the improper conduct of the accused was made prior to the lodging of present complaint by approaching the accused at a personal level. The only other independent eye witness was Rashmi (name changed) who is related to the complainant and has been examined as an eye witness. The court noted that though perusal of her cross-examination clearly reveals that all the alleged incidents were reported to her by her sister-in-law, however, she does not have any personal knowledge of the incident as well as activities of the accused as has been asserted by the complainant. Rashmi also admitted that Puneet was a disabled man.
The lady officer also admitted that during the investigation, it had surfaced that there has been an issue between the complainant woman and eyewitness (her relative) with the family of the accused.
In her statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C before the learned Magistrate, the complainant did not categorically name the accused nor did she detail the actions of the accused as she had done in her examination in court. The defence counsel on his part repeatedly confronted her with her statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. and she could not explain the gaps approximately or satisfactorily. Also her conduct is improbable when seen in background of the fact that though obscene activities were being carried on by both the accused for the past 7-8 months, she chose to keep quite for such a long time and no effort by her or her family members was ever made in order to sort out the issue.
The defense also asserted that the mother of the accused men had filed an FIR against the husbands of the complainant woman and her eyewitness relative. The accused claimed that November 2017 FIR was a counter blast of the FIR filed by their mother against that family in September 2017.
The court gave benefit of doubt to the accused and acquitted them of the charges levelled against them. The order read,
Their previous bail bonds and suety bonds stand discharged. Superdarinama, if any, also stands discharged. Case property, if any be disposed of as per rules after the expiry of period of appeal/revision and the result thereof. File be consigned to the record room after due compliance.
Author: Nandini Shah is a 3rd year Bachelors of Journalism student and currently working as an intern with MDO.
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