In Kanwar Pal Singh Gill vs State (UT Chandigarh) case, aggrieved by the impugned judgment passed by the Honorable High Court, a criminal revision was preferred by both the accused and the complainant respectively- Cr. Appeal No. 1032 of 1998 and Cr. Appeal No. 430 of 1999. The common judgment of the Supreme Court together disposed of both the appeals.
BENCH: KG BALAKRISHNAN & BN SRIKRISHNA
BRIEF FACTS OF THE CASE
- That on 18th July 1988, a senior IAS officer, holding the post of Financial Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Punjab hosted a dinner at his residence which was attended by some of his colleagues, the Advocate General of the State of Punjab, journalists and press correspondents working with some leading newspapers including the accused, who was the Director General of the State of Punjab and the complainant.
- As per the complaint, it was stated that the accused occupied a chair which was lying vacant at the place where the ladies were sitting and later on the complainant was called for an important talk. No sooner did she come to sit on the chair lying nearby than the accused, the latter dragged the chair twice which embarrassed her and made her to return to her original seat.
- It was further alleged that the accused could not accept the complainant’s refusal of accompanying him and he slapped on the posterior of the complainant and they did the same in the presence of other guests. They later removed the former from the place for his obnoxious behavior.
- They also narrated the whole incidence to her husband, who was present at that place and later on, an FIR was being lodged in the police station on 29th July 1988 and they registered a case but no further action was taken. After about four months, the husband of the complainant filed a complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, alleging commission of offence punishable under Sections 341, 342, 352, 354, 355 and 509 IPC.
- On criminal revision being preferred by the accused, the High Court quashed the complaint and further proceedings under the case registered by the police. Therefore, they made the said appeal to the concerned court.
- Whether the allegations made by the complainant constitute any of the offences mentioned above or was it a part of conspiracy to malign the accused?
- Whether a delay in filing the complaint itself was sufficient to reject the complaint put forward before the court?
- Whether it justified the High Court in quashing the complaint and FIR against the accused?
On behalf of the accused, it was contended that no such incident had actually happened and the entire case was falsely foisted with the purpose of defaming him. Hence, as per the contention, the High Court was totally justified in quashing FIR as they lodged the complaint with a malicious intention out of personal grudges.
Regarding question (2), it is important to note that the complainant recounted the entire incident immediately to the Chief Secretary and other officers and sought stringent actions against the accused. But when all her attempts failed, a criminal complaint was being filed by her and her husband. Thereby it is proved that there is nothing to doubt that the complainant acted in connivance with some others and that she hatched a conspiracy to malign the accused.
While considering whether the allegations constitute any or all of the offences for which the case was registered, the court takes into account Section 354 and 509 of IPC, which relates to the modesty and chastity of women.
In State of Punjab V. Major Singh, it was held by the court that “when any act was done to or in the presence of a woman is clearly suggestive of sex according to the common notions of humanity, it must fall within the mischief of Section 354.”
With regard to the above case referred, it was stated that the essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex, and from her very birth; she possesses modesty, which is the attribute of her sex.
In view of the entire incident, it is quite apparent that such offensive and unpleasant behavior of the accused on the date of such incident is not expected from a person holding the status of a top-ranking officer, certainly constituting the ingredient of Section 354 IPC because the alleged act of slapping on her posterior not only outraged the modesty but also the dignity of a lady.
Regarding question(3), the Supreme Court held that the High Court had committed a gross error of law by quashing the FIR and the case on the ground that an unusual delay has been made in lodging the complaint and violating the general principles of law.
In view of the above facts and circumstances, it was held that the order of the High Court cannot be set aside on the mere assertion that the whole incident was falsely foisted on him with ulterior motives. However, the judgment passed by the High Court quashing the FIR and the case was not found justifiable, and accordingly, the appeal of the accused was dismissed and hence was found guilty of the offence under Section 354 and 509 IPC.
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