A sessions court in Kerala, while granting anticipatory bail recently to an author and social activist in the State in a case of alleged sexual harassment, observed that the offence under Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code (‘Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty’) is not prima facie attracted when the de facto complainant was dressed in ‘sexually provocative dresses’. (The Kerala High Court has since stayed the order of the sessions court). The sessions court had relied on photographs submitted with the bail application of the accused showing that the de facto complainant was wearing a dress that was ‘sexually provocative’ and hence, Section 354A would not be used against the accused. The observation was clearly an affront to a woman’s constitutional right to dignity, life and personal liberty, and privacy. (Read More)
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