Sexual abuse at open places like mall & office highly improbable: Karnataka HC quashes case lodged by woman against boss

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The complainant who was working on a contract of 4 months, lodged sexual harassment case against her boss just 3 days before the expiry of her contract.

The Karnataka High Court recently quashed proceedings in a case lodged under Sections 354(A)(sexual harassment) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) by a woman against her male boss. 

The bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna observed that the places of alleged sexual contact that the woman had mentioned in her complaint were shocking as they were open public places.

"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," Court opined. 

Court further highlighted that the chargesheet also indicated that the allegation against the accused was that he had tried to touch the complainant inappropriately wanting to kiss her. "Neither the complaint nor the charge sheet would indicate any ingredient of offence under Section 354(A) of the IPC which deals with outraging the modesty of a woman," Court underscored. 

Therefore, court decided to obliterate the offense under Section 354(A) of IPC as alleged against the accused.

Court was dealing with a petition filed by the accused man against an order passed by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bengaluru whereby his application seeking discharge in a case registered in 2017 for offences punishable under Sections 420 and 354(A) of the IPC had been dismissed.

Allegations against the accused were that he, while working as a Delivery Center Manager of M/s Mindtree Company Limited, had promised permanent employment and other things to the complainant and on the basis of that he had established physical relations with her.

The complainant had joined the said company to work under the accused on a contract from April 26, 2017, to August 11, 2017. However, just three days before the complainant's contract could come to an end, she lodged a complaint leveling above mentioned allegations against the accused on August 8. 

The counsel for the accused argued that the allegations against him were false. He asserted that the management of the company did not want to extend the contract of the complainant, therefore, to pressurize the accused in recommending an extension of her contract, she filed a false case. 

The Government Pleader, however, opposed the plea for quashing the case and contended that it was a matter of trial for the accused to come out clean. Importantly, during the hearings before the high court, the complainant remained unrepresented. 

While holding that there was nothing on record to lay down offence of sexual harassment against the accused, court noted imposition of Section 420, IPC against the accused in the present matter was also contrary to law. 

"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 plethora of cases," Court highlighted. 

Therefore, court allowed the accused's petition while deeming it appropriate to obliterate the proceedings against him in the present case