Act Of Peeping Inside Bathroom When Woman Is Taking Bath Would Certainly Attract Criminality Under Voyeurism: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court has held that the act of peeping inside the bathroom while a woman is taking bath would certainly attract criminality under Section 354C of Indian Penal Code.
The Court added that such an act would put a woman under embarrassment and constant fear of being observed while she takes bath even behind the four walls of a makeshift bathroom.
The Court also observed that merely because a structure which is being used as bathroom by a woman does not have a door but only a curtain and temporary walls and it is situated outside her house does not make it a public place.
The bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma made this observation while upholding the Order of conviction and sentence imposed on a man for offences punishable under Section 354C of IPC.
Advocate Ashish Dahiya appeared for the appellant whereas APP Naresh Kumar Chahar appeared for the State.
As per the complaint, when the victim used to sit outside her house, the appellant used to look at her with sexual intent and whenever she used to go to take bath, the appellant-convict used to stand outside the bathroom on different pretexts and used to peep inside the bathroom.
The Counsel for the appellant had argued that the bathroom used by the victim being situated at a common public place cannot be termed as a ‘private area’ but a ‘public place’ and thus the act of bathing at such ‘public place’ cannot be held to be a ‘private act’.
The Court outrightly rejected the argument of the counsel for the appellant as absurd.
“…it is to be noted that the bathroom in question was situated in an open area, but it was not an open public place as suggested by learned counsel for appellant. It is clear from the statements of the witnesses that the bathroom had small walls and a curtain used to be drawn at the time of taking bath by the victim. The contention that the act of taking bath cannot be considered a ‘private act’ as it was being done in a public place is not only meritless but also absurd”
The Court held that taking bath in a bathroom by any person, whether a male or a female, is essentially a ‘private act’ as it is taking place inside the four walls of the bathroom.
The Court held that merely because a structure which is being used as bathroom by a woman does not have a door but only a curtain and temporary walls and it is situated outside her house does not make it a public place.
Thus the Court concluded that “…there is no infirmity as far as conviction under Section 354C of IPC is concerned as the statements of all the witnesses including the victim and her parents are consistent and the minor discrepancies in the cross-examination are of no consequence.”
However, the Court set aside the conviction of the appellant under Section 12 of POCSO Act while holding that the prosecution was not able to prove that the victim was less than 18 years of age at the time of incident.
Cause Title- Sonu@Billa v. State (Neutral Citation No. 2023:DHC:2374)