Time to initiate action against persons who file frivolous sexual harassment complaints: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court noted that time has come to initiate action against persons who file frivolous sexual harassment complaints with ulterior motives, observing how it is becoming a trend to register FIRs alleging such offences. Justice Subramonium Prasad made the observation on a petition requesting to quash an FIR. According to police, the report pertains to an allegation of outraging the modesty of women and sexual harassment after an argument over parking escalated. According to sources, the matter was settled outside of Court.
The duo approached the Court to quash the FIR filed under section sections 509 (insult to the modesty of a woman), 506 (criminal intimidation), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), and 354A (Sexual harassment) of IPC.
However, the Court observed that it is now a trend to register FIRs alleging offences under sections 354, 354A, 354B (Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 354C (Voyeurism), 354D (stalking) of IPC either to force a party from withdrawing a complaint instituted against them or to arm-twist them. The Court added that the aforementioned sections pertain to serious offences, adding that such “allegations have the effect of tarnishing the image of the person against whom such allegations are made”.
“Allegations regarding these offences cannot be made at the drop of a hat. This is an abuse of the process of law and this case is a classic example of how frivolously the parties have used these sections against each other,” Justice Prasad said. He added that this court took “judicial note of the fact that police officers have to spend time investigating such frivolous cases, attend court proceedings, and prepare the report. “The result is that investigation in serious offences often gets compromised and accused escape as a result.”
The court said that the 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. “Some petitioners in these claims are students who should understand that the courts and police are not to be taken for granted, assuming that anything and everything can be settled and that they can get away by filing false cases,” he added.
The Court imposed Rs 30,000 fine on both petitioners since the police had to spend valuable time in investigating the offence and considerable time was spent by the Court in the criminal proceedings. The Court also warned them from filing “false and frivolous cases in the future”.