The Kerala high court on Thursday, October 13 expunged the ‘sexually provocative dress’ remark of the Kozhikode sessions court while disposing of two pleas challenging the grant of anticipatory bail to activist Civic Chandran in a sexual harassment case.
During the hearing, Justice Kauser Edappagath observed that the dressing of a victim cannot be construed as a legal ground to absolve an accused from the charge of outraging the modesty of a woman, LiveLaw reported.
“The right to wear any dress is a natural extension of personal freedom guaranteed by the Constitution and a facet of the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. Even if a woman wears a provocative dress, that cannot give a licence to a man to outrage her modesty. Hence, the said finding of the court in the impugned order is hereby set aside,” the high court order said.
It, however, upheld the anticipatory bail granted to Chandran by the court on August 12. “In these circumstances, I am of the view that even though the reason shown by the Court below for granting anticipatory bail cannot be justified, the order granting anticipatory bail by the Court below cannot be set aside,” the judge said.
The sessions judge S. Krishnakumar had on August 12 granted anticipatory bail to Chandran, saying that the complaint under Section 354(A) of the Indian Penal Code would prima facie not stand when the woman was wearing “sexually provocative dresses”.
The accused had produced the photographs of the woman – which were taken from her social media account – along with the bail application, LiveLaw had reported.
A few days later, the Kerala high court stayed the sessions court’s order, observing that the latter had undertaken an “improper exercise of jurisdiction” and had relied on “irrelevant materials” while granting bail to the activist.
Chandran had been charged under the Indian Penal Code Sections 354A (sexual harassment), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).
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