Delhi Court orders framing of charges against social media member of Congress

 A Delhi court has ordered framing of charges against Chirag Patnaik, who was part of the social media team of the Congress, for “prima facie” outraging the modesty of a woman, saying any annoyance caused to a woman due to unwelcome advances of a man cannot be termed “slight harm”.

Additional Session Judge Rajinder Singh passed the directions on August 23 while upholding an order of a magisterial court, which had in April last year held that charges for the offence punishable under section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of IPC were made out.

The sessions court said it did not find any reason warranting interference in the impugned order.

The judge noted that in the complaint there were specific allegations that the accused tapped upon the shoulders and hands of his colleague without any specific reason.

“In view of the other allegations as mentioned in the complaint, at this stage there is no reason to believe that the accused tapped upon the shoulders and hands of the complainant in an innocuous manner or out of some legally justifiable compulsion/reason,” the judge said.

The act of tapping upon the shoulders and hands of the complainant by the accused amounts to use of criminal force since it resulted in annoyance to the complainant, the judge said.

“In my considered opinion any annoyance caused to a female (complainant/victim) due to the unwelcome advances of a male, cannot be called a ‘slight harm’, for which a female of ordinary sense…should not complain,” he said.

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Prima facie, gazing at the body contours of a woman so as to make her uncomfortable would be an insult to her modesty, the judge said, observing that in the complaint, there were specific allegations that the revisionist used to gaze at the body contours of the complainant.

According to the complaint, Patnaik on many occasions had allegedly made the complainant uncomfortable at their office with his frequent violation of her personal space and “immoral behaviour”.

“Between April 4, 2018 and May 23, 2018, on many occasions, under the pretext of checking tweets, Patnaik violated my personal space by coming too close to me, while I was busy concentrating on my computer screen, Patnaik encircled me from behind in a manner most immoral, pretending to check the tweets,” the charge sheet quoting the victim said.

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