A district sessions court in Kerala’s Kozhikode on Wednesday, 17 August, observed that offences under Section 354 (A) (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) are prima facie 'not attracted' when the woman was wearing ‘sexually provocative dresses.’
The court made the observation while granting anticipatory bail to 74-year-old social activist and writer Civic Chandran in a sexual harassment case. Chandran had furnished photographs of the complainant along with the bail plea.
"The photographs produced along with the bail application by the accused would reveal that the de-facto complainant herself is exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one. So Section 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused," the Kozhikode Sessions Court noted in the order, Live Law reported.
On 2 August, he had obtained anticipatory bail in another case of sexual harassment filed against him.
The court observed that according to the wording of Section 354, it is clear that there must be intention, for outraging the modesty of a woman, on the part of the accused. The court observed:
“In order to attract this Section there must be physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures, and there must be sexually coloured remarks or demands or requests for sexual favours.”
The court also claimed that it is a well-settled principle that when there is a long delay in lodging an FIR, the reason for the delay must be properly explained. In this case, the FIR was lodged two years after the alleged date of crime.
The prosecution have alleged that Chandran made sexual advances towards the woman, who is a young writer and tried to outrage her modesty in a camp at Nandi beach in February 2020. Meanwhile, Chandran alleged that the woman had raised a false complaint against him.
'When Will This Mindset Change?': DCW Chairperson Swati
Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal tweeted in Hindi, "According to the Kerala Court, the complaint of sexual harassment will not be valid if the clothes of the girl are 'Aggravating' or 'Sexually Provocative!"
"When will the mindset that blames the victim for sexual abuse change? The Kerala High Court should take immediate cognisance of this," Maliwal added.