False accusation of sexual harassment sets back women empowerment: Delhi High Court

The issues in this case involved false allegations of sexual harassment against the accused which was brought up before the bench of Delhi High Court consisting of Justice Subramonium Prasad in the matters between Dr Karunakar Patra v State and Ors. W.P. (CRL.) 502/2021 decided on 24.1.2022.

The facts of the case are petition filed by a Delhi University professor seeking the quashing of a first information report (FIR) registered by his neighbour under Sections 354 and 506 of IPC.The Professor lived in a house which was damaged due to the actions of the respondent lady Meena and often engaged in quarrels with the Petitioner and his wife.Her brother, Jatin also threatened  and abused the wife and entire family with dire consequences.The wife then filed an FIR against Jatin  but it was not registered.Later, Jatin again molested the wife and she called the police, but was later forced to take back her complain and submit an apology.Later, she filed a civil suit seeking demolition of the illegal construction in their area.

The counsel for petitioners contended the petitioner and his family were out of town, and neighbors demolished the reinforced concrete water tank that had been built for his loft apartment. Neighbors even built a room and toilet and broke the pipe used to supply water to the petitioner’s apartment. While the petitioner has made several representations to the Delhi Development Authority and Delhi Police to take action for the illegal construction, no action has been taken against them, allegedly because their neighbor’s daughter-in-law is an Officer in the Delhi Police.

The counsel for respondents contended petitioner and his wife are regular complainants and this both filed several complaints about the construction being done in their neighbourhoods. He claimed that letters were sent to the Delhi Municipal Authority (MCD) for the necessary action to be taken regarding the complaints of illegal construction, and that the request was also sent to the SDM for further action to be taken. He stated that for every complaint made by the petitioner and his wife, the necessary actions were taken in accordance with the law.

The Delhi High Court quashed the FIR  and held that bringing such cases trivializes a serious crime and casts doubt on the veracity of the allegations made by all other victims. The content of the FIR was sketchy in nature and lacked any detail about the crimes allegedly committed. A thorough reading of the matter revealed that the FIR was merely a counterattack and was only registered to compel the plaintiff and his wife to withdraw complaints against neighbors with a covert motive to take revenge on the petitioner and to hold grudges against himself and his wife out of a private and personal grudge and suffering over cases of sexual harassment were recorded in a flash, noting that this effectively hindered the goal of women’s empowerment.

Click here to read the judgement

Judgement reviewed by Bhaswati Goldar

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