The Kerala High Court on Monday granted anticipatory bail to a city-based make-up artist accused by several women of sexually harassing and molesting them.

Justice Gopinath P granted the relief to 37-year-old Anez Anzare in four different cases against him for the offences of sexual harassment and outraging the modesty of women, saying that his custodial interrogation was not necessary.

The Court granted him anticipatory bail subject to the conditions that he would execute separate bonds, in each case, of Rs one lakh with two solvent sureties each for the like-sum, he shall cooperate with the investigation in every manner, will appear before the investigating officer as and when called upon to do so, shall not attempt to contact the complainants, interfere with the probe or intimidate the witnesses.

In three of the cases, the women had accused the make-up artist of sexually harassing and molesting them on their wedding day when they went to his studio for bridal make-up. In the fourth case, the woman was a former employee of Anzare and alleged that under the guise of showing her around the studio, he inappropriately touched and groped her.

Anzare's Advocate S. Rajeev had opposed the allegations, saying they were baseless, false and three of them pertained to the years 2015 and 2016 and were therefore, barred by time. His lawyer also claimed that the accusations were made to run him out of business and allegedly at the instance of one Priya, who was earlier associated with the make-up artist.

The lawyer also claimed that the allegations surfaced immediately after an allegation of rape was levelled against a tattoo artist, which got attention from the media.

The prosecution opposed the grant of any relief to the make-up artist, saying that several persons, who have no connection with one another, have raised the allegations and, therefore, they cannot be written off as being a campaign to drive the accused out of business. The prosecutor had contended that considering the nature of the allegations, the custodial interrogation of the accused was absolutely necessary.

However, the court said that keeping in view the principles regarding bail laid down in various cases and considering the nature of the allegations against the accused, he can be granted anticipatory bail in all the cases registered against him subject to conditions.

The Court said that while the allegations were serious, the maximum punishment provided for under the offences he was accused of was seven years.

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With PTI inputs