[Gender Equality] Section 354 of the IPC, operates equality upon all persons whether Males or Females: Mumbai Court

section 354 IPC Mumbai

MUMBAI: Recently, the MM Court of Mumbai held that section 354 of IPC (Outrage the modest of the Women) is the gender neutral offence and it is applicable to all the offenders irrespective of their gender.

The Court recently convicted and sentenced a mother of three year old child to one-year rigorous imprisonment for outraging another woman’s modesty. Further, the bench of Metropolitan Magistrate Manoj Vasantrao Chavan said –

Section 354 of the IPC, therefore, operates equality upon all persons whether males or females and it cannot be maintained that woman are exempted from any punishment under this section,

Section 354 IPC is “not a sexual offence” but falls under the chapter of ‘Criminal Force and Assault’ and its necessary ingredients include using criminal force with the intent or knowledge to outrage a woman’s modesty.”

The Court has convicted Rovena Bhosale accused under sections 323 and 354 of the IPC, for assaulting her neighbors and tearing her nightdress in the building passage in front of several other people on September 19, 2020 due to a long-standing dispute.

The Court has examined the six witness and one of them told that the victim was beaten with a shoe and was completely naked after her nightdress was torn. The APP argued that all the charges were proved against the accused, however, advocate for the accused argued that both women are neighbors, and there was no intention to outrage her modesty. The section wasn’t applicable to a woman.

Further, the court said that the pronoun “he” used in section 354 IPC to mean a male or a female based on section 8 of the IPC. “It is thus clear that under section 354 IPC, a man as well as a woman can be held guilty of the offence of assaulting or using criminal force to any woman with the intention or knowledge that the woman’s modesty will be outraged and be punished for the offence.

The court held that force used against a woman becomes criminal when it is applied without or consent or against her will.

However, the court noted that the accused was a mother of three, the youngest child being merely 1.5 years old, therefore she was awarded the minimum punishment prescribed under the section.

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