Rosy Sequeira,TNN | Feb 28, 2014, 01.53 AM IST

Only girl can decide nature of touch: HC
The intention of an accused in a molestation case could be gauged only after hearing the victim’s version, said the Bombay high court.
MUMBAI: The intention of an accused in amolestation case could be gauged only after hearing the victim’s version, said the Bombay high court, declining relief to the owner of a popular chain of coaching classes in the city.

A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya was on Thursday hearing a petition by Machindra Chate of Chate Coaching Classes, urging the court to quash an FIR lodged against him by a student. A chargesheet has also been filed under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC.

The incident took place on January 30, 2013, when HSC students and their parents met him at his Dadar office to complain about the teaching at his classes. According to the complaint, when a student asked him to take responsibility, he allegedly abused her and pushed her away in “such a way that made her feel ashamed”.

Chate’s advocate K Holambe-Patil argued that the parents had assaulted him following which, he lodged a complaint; it was at that time that Chate learnt that a student had also lodged a complaint against him.

“It was a scuffle, where was the intent to molest her?” Holambe-Patil demanded. But refusing to be convinced by the argument, the judges questioned how the HC could give a verdict that there was no intention to outrage the student’s modesty.

“Even if you keep your hand on the shoulder of a woman, it is for the lady to comment on the nature of the touch, whether it was friendly, brotherly or fatherly,” said Justice Patil.

The judges also referred to the Rupan Deol Bajaj vs KPS Gill case where the IPS officer was in trouble for his “pat on Bajaj’s back”. “To say there was no intention is not possible. Her deposition is required. If the girl says there was a misunderstanding, then the situation would be entirely different. Let the girl say why she felt shameful of the act,” said Justice Patil.

The judges pointed out that even with the law being amended there was a debate over the recording of a victim’s statements as minute details were asked. “That is the reason why victims in many incidents refuse to come forward,” said Justice Patil. Indicating that they would reject Chate’s plea, the judges said he could file an application for getting discharged in the case before the trial court.

Holambe-Patil said its hearing might take time and that since Chate would be “contesting the elections, his opponents would use this case for adverse campaigning”. But he agreed to withdraw the petition with the judges directing the lower court to expeditiously hear his discharge plea.

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