False Sexual Harassment Charges Cast Doubt On Veracity Of Allegations By Real Victims - Delhi HC [Read Judgment]
The Delhi High Court while quashing the FIR U/s 482 CrPC has expressed displeasure on how false sexual harassment cases are filed at the drop of a hat to register one's displeasure at the conduct of another individual.
A bench of Justice Subromonium Prasad while considering a petition filed under section 226 of the Constitution along with section 482 of the C.R.PC observed, "Invoking sections such as 354A/506 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) merely trivializes the offense of sexual harassment and casts doubt on the veracity of the allegations filed by every other victim who has, in reality, faced sexual harassment, thereby setting back the cause of women empowerment".
The petition was filed by a Delhi University professor, who in 2016 had gone back to his hometown. On reaching, he found an illegal construction on his rooftop, which affected the water supply at his place. He objected to the same and expressed his grievance to his neighbors but that was of no avail. The Petitioner even had to spend from his own pocket to restore the water supply at his place. Since the Petitioner's wife was suffering from different ailments, they made several representations to the DDA and to the police to demolish the illegal construction. But their efforts bore no fruit. The Respondents even threatened the Petitioners with dire consequences for approaching different authorities. The Petitioners on receiving threats wanted to lodge an FIR, but FIR was also not registered and the Petitioner's wife had to compromise as the Respondent's daughter-in-law was serving in the police. The Petitioner's wife filed a civil suit to demolish the construction. This enraged son of Respondent No. 2, who threatened the Petitioner's wife. The Petitioner's wife registered another complaint with the police but to no avail. Respondent No. 2 then filed an FIR, alleging offences under 354A and 506 of the IPC being committed by the Petitioner.
Counsel Mr. Kumar Piyush Pushkar, on behalf of the Petitioner, contended that the impugned FIR be quashed as it had been lodged with a mala fide intent and is an attempt to coerce and arm-twist the Petitioner into withdrawing the complaint that has been lodged by the Petitioner's wife against the son of Respondent No.2
He further submitted that the impugned FIR contains nothing but bald allegations and has been registered in connivance with the police as the daughter-in-law of Respondent No.2 is a part of Delhi Police.
Mr. Ashish Aggarwal, ASC for the State, submitted that the Petitioner and his wife are habitual complainants and that both of them have filed several complaints regarding the construction that has taken place in their neighbourhood. He further contended that the appropriate action has been taken as per the law on each and every complaint which has been filed by the Petitioner and his wife.
The Court observed, "Contents of the FIR are sketchy in nature and are void of any specifics regarding the offenses which have allegedly been committed. The Court further stated "The Status Report also does not reveal anything about the offenses being referred to in the impugned FIR. Status Report states that the Petitioner and his wife were habitual complainants and have filed multiple complaints against the construction that would take place in the neighborhood, and therefore, it is evident that the instant FIR was maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the Petitioner, and with a view to spite him and his wife due to a private and personal grudge"
The Court concluded by observing "FIR was merely a counterblast and was solely registered to arm-twist the Petitioner and his wife into withdrawing the complaints that had been filed against Respondent No.2 and her family".
The Court further expressed its anguish by observing,"...how provisions such as Sections 354A/506 IPC are falsely invoked at the drop of a hat to register one's displeasure at the conduct of another individual. This merely trivialises the offence of sexual harassment and casts a doubt on the veracity of the allegations filed by every other victim who has in reality faced sexual harassment, thereby setting back the cause of women empowerment."
Accordingly, the Court quashed the FIR in the exercise of its powers under Section 482 of CrPC and allowed the petition.