The law does not specify that just because two consenting adults are having an affair, any physical contact between them would not invite charges of outraging modesty , the Bombay high court has said.The HC refused to quash an FIR on outraging modesty and cheating against a Juhu man, and his parents and relatives, lodged after he allegedly went back on his promise to marry a woman he met on Facebook.After the engagement was called off, the woman, Seema (29; a Vakola resident) complained that her ex-fiancé, Yogesh (28), had taken her to Shivaji Park and touched her inappropriately in public and sent her obscene messages on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Parab’s lawyer, Mahesh Vaswani, while urging the HC to strike down the criminal case, said there were no physical relations between the couple and physical contact between two consenting adults during an affair would not spell out an offence. The HC division bench, of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Prakash Naik, did not agree and said it was not inclined to interfere in the case at that stage. “From the sections (of the Indian Penal Code) we have perused, we do not see any such requirement being stipulated. Secondly… this is not the only allegation. Seema has specifically referred to all conversations on Facebook and mobile messages, which, prima facie, would reveal that there was an attempt to outrage modesty once consent was obtained in the garb of a permanent relationship,“ said the bench. “In these circumstances, given the increasing tendency of such crimes (against) women, we do not think we should interfere (in the case).“

Advocate Vaswani contended that if the allegations mentioned in the FIR were treated as offences, “then any boy romancing a girl would result in his parents and relatives too being named as accused, if the friendship doesn’t end in marriage“. But the HC said the allega tions could not be viewed in an isolated manner and following changes in the law, several acts like sexual harassment, disrobing a woman, voyeurism and stalking come under the purview of the provision relating to outraging modesty .

The court also rejected the plea to quash cheating charges registered against Yogesh, his parents and his maternal uncle and aunt. The judges said that the FIR mentioned meetings between the families. “There was an assurance and promise since inception, which led to all expenses being incurred, including booking of venue, purchases for the girl, such as jewellery. It is in these circumstances that we do not think we should prevent any inquiry or further details being obtained by a process known to law,“ said the court. The HC said it could not be presumed that the police would rope in all the people mentioned in the FIR as accused in the chargesheet without evidence, and the trial court too was not powerless to grant relief.

Additional public prosecutor FR Shaikh had opposed the application, saying the police’s chargesheet was ready .

(Names of couple changed to protect identities)