Author: Ankita Karn (REVA University, Bangalore)
Bombay High Court has observed while striking down the criminal prosecution against a 45- year old principal of an ashram school that a casual touch by a colleague does not constitute the offence of outraging the modesty of a woman. The principal was booked last year for touching the hands of a teacher in a class in the presence of her students.
Dilip Lomate, the headmaster of Shri Sant Dnyaneshwar Prathmik Ashram School which situated in Osmanabad District was accused by a fellow teacher of that particular school for outraging her modesty under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The fellow teacher on September 26, 2018 made a complaint that the headmaster (Dilip Lomate), infront of the entire class came while she was teaching and held her hand and assured her that he will clear all of her pending medical and leaving allowance bills. He further pleaded her not to lodge any complaint against him with the school trustees.
The accused was then lodged by Bembali Police Station in Osmanabad district under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 which states (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), after she accused him for outraging her modesty.
Further, the bench of Justice TV Nalawade and Justice KK Sonawane strike down the criminal prosecution of the headmaster and states that:
The bare act of touching hands of fellow woman-teacher by the headmaster while assuring her that her pending bills will be cleared by him and pleading her not to complaint against him to school trustees would not itself be sufficient to constitute the offence of outraging the modesty of the complainant teacher
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