The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to quash an FIR for stalking and forgery against a Professor at RVRS Medical College Bhilwara, Rajasthan, who was booked for allegedly sending a medical student her photo with a good-morning message on WhatsApp and for allegedly failing her in the practical viva exam by altering the marks.

The Vacation Bench of Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice P.S. Narasimha dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed challenging the order passed by the Rajasthan High Court refusing to quash the FIR under Sections 354-D, 467 468, 471, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

The Vacation Bench said in its order, "We are not inclined to interfere with the order impugned. The special leave petition is dismissed. Pending application stands disposed of. However, it is open to the petitioner to raise all the objections as available to him at the appropriate stage."

It was submitted in the SLP that the said FIR filed by the complainant is an act of vengeance and is an attempt to incriminate the Petitioner for the reason that he inquired and warned the complainant for her illegal acts of ragging committed on the university premises. On the allegation of failing her in viva examination, it was contended that the complainant perceived her failure to be the fault of the Petitioner.

It is stated in the SLP that complaint was filed before the Sexual Harassment Committee against the Petitioner and then in a fit of vengeance, the complainant filed the FIR in question. The SLP said that the High Court failed to appreciate that the contents of the FIR in question do not disclose any cognizable offence and that the ingredients of the offences registered under the FIR do not have any rhyme or reason.

On the allegation of stalking, the SLP stated, "The complainant has stated in the FIR that the accused used to click my pictures in class and send photographs as well as messages on WhatsApp, where in reality the Petitioner/accused has only sent one photo to the complaint, and that too was a class group photo. With regards to the message, it was a mere good morning text that was sent to all the students in general from their teacher and had nothing to do in particular with the complainant."

Appearing for the Petitioner, Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave submitted that "There is a five-member committee report which absolves him. There was no subsequent report, I verified it, there was a three-member committee report earlier in point of time that recommended a constitution of the five-member committee which in fact absolved me."

Justice Maheshwari then asked, "Was he supposed to send messages along with photographs". Dave then replied that it was a good morning message sent along with a group photo. Senior Advocate Dave further added that "Because of the FIR, I was suspended and subsequently transferred. But the POSH committee, the administrative committee of 5 members found in my favour emphatically. A good morning message to a student cannot be considered stalking."

The Bench stated that it is not a fit case for quashing. "The investigating authority is to look into what is required and what is not required. So it is not a case for quashing. You have all the liberties to raise all the objections at all the stages," observed the Court.

Senior Advocate Dave implored the bench and said that "I am still in service but with this FIR, my career will be over. This FIR will be there all the time over me. Kindly see the motivation for lodging this complaint. It is a harsh case." He further submitted that "Good morning to my student in the exam centre. Kindly see the definition of stalking. The only allegation is that this Good Morning constitutes stalking and rough sheet correction is a forgery. These are the only 2 offences. He corrects a student and somebody registers a FIR."

In the impugned order, the High Court noted that as per the statement of the 20-year-old complainant recorded under Sections 161 and 164 Cr.P.C., she specifically named the petitioner and from the reading of the FIR as well as statements, the ingredients of an offence under Section 354-D IPC are very much present. The High Court further noted that the statement of independent witnesses is in favour of the complainant.

The order read "Further, the committee constituted by the College upon a complaint made by the complainant, also found the petitioner guilty and suspended the petitioner from the college, Furthermore, when the petitioner was not succeeded in his bad intention, he failed the complainant in the examination by manipulation in the marks and in an inquiry, it was also found proved that the petitioner by manipulation, gave 25 in place of 32 marks in practical exam and 15 marks in place of 18 marks in viva exam. The petitioner was also stalking the complainant." The High Court had accordingly dismissed the Petition.

Cause Title: Shankar Manohar Panwar Acharya v. State Of Rajasthan & Anr. [SLP(Crl) No. 006774 - / 2023]

Click here to read/download the Order