Delhi Court grants bail to accused Harish Chander in DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal's assault case

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The court while granting bail observed that all offences in the current case are punishable with imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.

A Delhi Court on Saturday granted bail to Harish Chander who is accused of dragging Delhi Commission for Woman (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal by a car outside All India Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on January 19 after her hand got stuck in the vehicle’s window.

An FIR had been registered against Chander under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (Assault of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 342 (wrongful confinement), and 509 (Word, gesture, or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 185 (Driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs) of the Motor Vehicle Act.

Metropolitan Magistrate (Mahila Court) Sanghmitra of Delhi’s Saket Court noted that: “No doubt the nature of accusations is serious….however, it is not the only test or factor to be considered.”

“It is a basic principle of criminal law that the accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty….It is also a settled law that bail is the rule and jail is an exception and the object of bail is to secure the presence of the accused”, the court added.

During the hearing, the court asked the IO regarding the need for any custodial interrogation for the purpose of investigation, to which she replied in the negative.

The court further noted that all the offences of which the accused was charged with, barring one, were bailable in nature and the punishment for the same was less than seven years.

"Considering the facts and circumstances of the present case, I am of the view that no useful purpose will be served by keeping the accused behind bars”, the court said.

Advocate S K Dhaka, appearing for the accused, told the court that a video had surfaced showing Maliwal with a cameraman approaching the accused and contended that "it was a staged act performed by the complainant to show her power".

On the contrary, Additional Public Prosecutor Dishank Dhawan opposed the bail plea and contended that the accused was repeatedly making lewd gestures.

“If the accused can do this to the DCW chief, and that person is given bail, what message will be sent to society? Please look at the impact this order will have on society,” the counsel argued. He also added that the MLC of the accused showed he was drunk.

Noting, that the accused had no previous involvement in any other offence, the court said, that any apprehensions that he might threaten witnesses or tamper evidence were at this stage ipso dixit (unproven). Accordingly, the court granted bail to Harish Chander in a bail bond of Rs. 50,000 with one surety of like amount.  

Case Title: State v. Harish Chander