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New Delhi: A Kerala court has granted anticipatory bail to author and activist Civic Chandran in a sexual harassment case, observing that the complaint under Section 354(A) of the Indian Penal Code would prima facie not stand when the woman was wearing “sexually provocative dresses”.
According to LiveLaw, the accused had produced the photographs of the woman along with the bail application.
“The photographs produced along with the bail application by the accused would reveal that the defacto complainant herself is exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one. So Section 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused,” the Kozhikode sessions court judge S. Krishnakumar noted in the order issued on August 12.
The photographs were taken from the complainant’s social media account, as per the report.
Additionally, the court, while observing that the first information report was registered after six months, also noted that when there is a long delay in lodging an FIR, the reason for the delay must be properly explained.
The complainant, who is a young female writer, alleged that Chandran tried to outrage her modesty in a camp convened at Nandi beach in February 2020. The Koyilandi police registered a case against him under Sections 354A(2), 341 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code.
However, advocates P.V. Hari and Sushama M., appearing for Chandran, contended that it is a false case and has been fabricated against him by some of his enemies to seek vengeance against him.
The court further noted, “In order to attract this Section [354A], there must be a physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. There must be a demand or request for sexual favours. There must be a sexually coloured remarks.”
The court made these observations saying that the 74-year-old physically disabled accused could not have forcefully put the defacto complainant in his lap and pressed her breasts.
Meanwhile, the public prosecutor opposed the bail plea, contending that a similar sexual harassment case had been previously filed against the accused.
In the earlier case also, the court had granted anticipatory bail to Chandran on the grounds of his old age and health problems. Similar charges were filed against the activist in this case, too.
According to the Indian Express, a Dalit writer had on July 17 complained to the police that Chandran had tried to kiss her on her neck and outraged her modesty on April 17. The district court in Kozhikode granted him anticipatory bail in this case on August 2.
While granting him bail, the court had observed that offences under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would not prima facie stand against the accused as it “is highly unbelievable that he will touch the body of the victim fully knowing that she is member of Scheduled Caste”.
Sessions judge Krishnakumar had said, “He is fighting against the caste system and is involved in several agitations. It is not at all stated in the first information statement that the act of the accused was with the knowledge that the victim belonged to a member of Scheduled Caste.”
The judge had further noted that considering the age and health condition of the accused, “it cannot be believed that he kissed the back of the woman, who is taller than the accused”.
Regressing attitudes towards sexual harassment cases
Reacting to the judgment, several social media users criticised the court’s judgment, and questioned whether, after 75 years of independence, the nation is progressing. They also expressed discomfort over the fact that the burden of proof always lies with the victim.
75 years of Independence you say?
Well.. Our country always finds a reason to release harassers and rapists because women are at fault. Always. https://t.co/W0AiNTyFMg
— Debotri Ghosh (@DebotriG) August 17, 2022
The misogyny is so deep rooted in our society, most days it feels like it’s beyond repair. https://t.co/51ZQUBYFln
— Rutuja (ऋतुजा) 🇮🇳 (@Havaldarshinde) August 17, 2022
https://t.co/7I08IaiJYe this is how the cases of sexual harrasment and assault will be decided from now on??
Provocation is because of perverseness of the CRIMINAL rather than the dress of the survivor
https://t.co/4mN94SnmtG via @scroll_in
— anup (@anuptripathi27) August 17, 2022
And who gets to decide that the woman is wearing “sexually provocative dress” ?!? As we are celebrating 75th year, my country is getting more and more regressive..
— Andolanjivi. اسيم 🇮🇳 🇮🇳 🇮🇳 (@aseemtamboli) August 17, 2022
I mean WHATTTTT,
wait wait I mean Whattttttttttt. pic.twitter.com/E0QhLsY7Sv
— Shazi Rahmani (@RahmaniShazi) August 17, 2022