Throwing a chit proclaiming love for a married woman amounts to outraging her modesty, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court said. While hearing an appeal filed by a married woman, the court also slapped a fine of ₹50,000 on the accused and also directed him to pay additional compensation of ₹35,000 to the victim.
Justice Rohit Deo said that the act of throwing a chit on a married woman, that professes love for her and contains poetic verses, is "sufficient to outrage her modesty".
An FIR was registered by the 45-year-old woman against the grocery shop owner Shrikrushna Tawari, and accused him of throwing a note confessing his love, India Today reported.
On October 3, 2011, the accused had allegedly handed her a chit while she was washing utensils. On being refused, the accused threw the note at her and left muttering, "I love you".
The accused allegedly started making obscene gestures while looking at her and warned her not to disclose the contents of the chit to anyone. Prior to this incident, the victim also claimed that the man used to flirt with her on multiple occasions and threw small pebbles at her.
An FIR was also registered under sections 354 (outraging modesty of a woman), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 509 (insult of a woman by words) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, the accused had defended that the woman lodged a false complaint after purchasing groceries from his store on credit and denied paying the due amount.
However, based on the contents of the chit, the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Court 8, Akola convicted the accused on June 21, 2018. He was also sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for two years and imposed a fine of ₹40,000, of which ₹35,000 was to be paid to the woman as compensation.
"The modesty of a woman is her most precious jewel, and there cannot be a straitjacket formula to ascertain whether modesty is outraged," Justice Rohit Deo said.
Justice Deo held that he had no reason to disbelieve the woman's evidence that the accused threw a note containing obscene content. No-fault was found with the concurrent finding that the applicant did outrage her modesty.
"The evidence on record that the accused used to "flirt, make gestures like pouting of lips, on occasions hit her with small pebbles is confidence inspiring," Deo further noted.
As the accused has undergone 45 days of incarceration, the high court observed that more of it is not of any use, and instead said that he deserves a chance to reform. However, an additional fine of ₹50,000 and the amount of ₹35,000 will be paid as compensation to the victim.