Sexual Harassment In Open Places Like Malls, Restaurants, Offices Etc. Is Highly Improbable: Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court on 2nd March, 2023 has quashed a sexual harassment complaint lodged by an employee against her manager three days before her work contract with the private company was to end saying that sexual harassment in open places is highly improbable. This was in the case of Sameer Dinakar Bhole V. State of Karnataka & ANR (CRIMINAL PETITION NO. 697 OF 2020) and this was presided over by a single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna.


The petitioner is the accused and the 2nd respondent is the complainant. The petitioner was working as a Delivery Center Manager of M/s Mindtree Company Limited. The 2nd respondent joins the Company under the accused on 26.04.2017 and leaves the Company on 11.08.2017. During the said period she was working under the accused. Just before the closure of the contract of the complainant with the Company which was to close on 11.08.2017, she registers a complaint on 08.08.2017 which becomes a crime for offences punishable under Sections 354(A) and 420 of the IPC. The petitioner had knocked at the doors of this Court in 2017 and during the pendency of the said petition, the police filed a charge sheet. On filing of the charge sheet the petition was disposed as having become infructuous and reserving liberty to challenge the charge sheet. Petitioner then files an application under Section 239 of the Cr.P.C. before the concerned Court seeking his discharge from the proceedings. The concerned Court in terms of its order declines to accept the contention and rejects the application seeking discharge. It is then the petitioner has knocked at the doors of this Court, yet again, now calling in question the order and the entire proceedings.

The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that the impugned order rejecting the application seeking discharge bears no application of mind, the ingredients of Section 354(A) of the IPC are completely absent in the charge sheet so filed by the police. The petitioner has neither sexually abused nor harassed the complainant. The management did not want to extend the contract of the complainant that’s why the petitioner wanted to pressurize in recommending extension of contract. Therefore, the allegations of 354(A) of the IPC are laid against the petitioner contending that they have happened in an open place in an office or in the mall which is highly improbable.


The bench allowed the petition and said, “The places are at Mindtree office, Forum Mall-Koramangala, Barton Center-M.G.Road, all of which are open places. The petitioner sexually abusing the complainant in such open places cannot but be an allegation that is highly improbable.”
Following which it said “This is plainly contrary to law, as breach of promise of marriage cannot become an offence under Section 420 of the IPC is the law laid down by the Apex and that of this Court in a plethora of cases. Therefore, the said offence also cannot be laid against the petitioner.”

Thus it held “In the light of both the offences laying no foundation, either in the complaint or in the charge sheet, the concerned Court ought to have considered the application of the petitioner for discharge and passed appropriate orders, in accordance with law.”

It further added “I deem it appropriate to obliterate the proceedings against the petitioner, failing which, it would become an abuse of the process of the law and result in miscarriage of justice.”


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