Section 354 IPC provides that whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment. Such an opinion was held by The Hon’ble High Court of Sikkim before The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan in the matter of Padam Bahadur Bardewa Vs. State of Sikkim [Crl. Rev. P. No. 03 of 2021].
The facts of the case were associated with an application under Sections 397 and 401 of the Cr.PC. It was stated by the advocate representing the revisionist that there was a delay in lodging the FIR. It was also submitted by him that there were material contradictions. The case of Santosh Prasad vs. The State of Bihar [2020 3 SCC 443] was referred to wherein material contradictions were found and the way the alleged incident had taken place according to the prosecutrix was not probable, thus in such a situation the Supreme Court held that the evidence of the prosecutrix did not withstand the test of a sterling witness.
All the submissions of the defence regarding the contradictions were extensively examined by the Trial Court and Appellate Court and concluded that no material contradictions were found. It was reported that the revisionist asked the victim to touch the steering and when she did the revisionist came close to her sniffed and smelled her and eventually touched her inappropriately. The evidence of the victim was found to be natural and probable. The revisionist was convicted under Section 354 and 354A of the IPC, 1860 by the trial court and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment of 1 year and a fine of 5,000/- under Section 354A IPC. The victim’s testimony had satisfied the ingredients of Section 354 as well as 354A(1)(i) IPC. It was pretty evident that it was a singular incident that led to the prosecution. The learned trial court as well as the learned appellate court found the revisionist guilty of the offences under Section 354 and 354A IPC.
Considering all the submissions, The Hon’ble Court stated that “In view of the clear provision of the Section 71 IPC this court is of the view that the sentence meted out to the convict under Section 354 IPC which is the lesser of the two offences cannot stand. It is set aside. The conviction of the revisionist are upheld; the sentences are revised as above. The revisionist is in custody. He shall continue there until the completion of the sentence.”
Judgment reviewed by Bipasha Kundu