Court, India, Stories

Review: Karnataka HC: Scatological or Salacious Statements Against Women Insult Their Modesty


In this edition of court judgements, we look at the Karnataka HC’s orders that scatological or salacious statements against women insult their modesty, that the law does not penalize victims of prostitution; it punishes those who exploit others for commercial sexual purposes, Kerala HC’s observation that voicing safety concerns doesn’t harm the company’s reputation and violates the employee’s freedom of speech if disciplinary action is taken for it, Madras HC’s order that when a child is adopted, all ties with their biological family are legally severed and replaced by new ties created within the adoptive family.

Karnataka HC: Scatological or salacious statements against women insult their modesty

In Alla Baksha Patel vs. State of Karnataka & Another, Alla Baksha Patel, the accused in the criminal case, filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking to dismiss the criminal proceedings against him. He was accused of allegedly writing the contact number of a married woman on the walls of a men’s toilet at Majestic bus stand, Bangalore, calling her “a call girl.” This led to the woman receiving unexpected and threatening calls at odd hours. 

Following her complaint, the Police conducted an investigation and filed a charge sheet against Alla Baksha Patel, and another person for offences under Sections 501, 504, 507, and 509 of the IPC. The petitioner sought to quash the proceedings, arguing that Sections 504 and 506 of the IPC are non-cognizable offences and that there was no independent evidence against him except for the statement of a witness.

Justice M Nagaprasanna dismissed the petition, stating that any scatological or salacious statements made against a woman, whether by gesture, writing, or speaking, would amount to insulting the modesty of a woman. He added that in the digital age, a woman’s modesty can be violated through derogatory statements or writings. The court held that the engraving of the woman’s number on the wall attracts the ingredients of Section 509 of the IPC, which deals with insulting the modesty of a woman. The court emphasized the need for stern action in such cases and rejected the petitioner’s arguments, asserting that justice for the victim is paramount. Stating this, the Court dismissed his petition and refused to quash the proceedings.

Karnataka HC: The law does not penalize victims of prostitution; it punishes those who exploit others for commercial sexual purposes.

In January 2013, the police stopped a vehicle and found that it was transporting several girls, including the petitioner, from Udupi to Goa for prostitution. The main people responsible for this were Accused No. 1 and Accused No. 9, who were paying the girls Rs. 10,000 each for this purpose. The police registered a case and filed charges against all involved, including the petitioner in Mrs. X vs. State of Karnataka and Others.

Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court found that the petitioner was being transported for prostitution, which is punishable under Section 5 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act. However, the court noted that Section 5 of the Act punishes those who procure or transport individuals for prostitution, not the victims themselves. Referring to a Bombay High Court ruling, the court emphasized that punishing the victim would be an abuse of the process of law. Therefore, the court held that the petitioner, as a victim, should not be prosecuted under the Act and allowed the petition. 

Kerala HC: Voicing safety concerns doesn’t harm the company’s reputation and violates the employee’s freedom of speech if disciplinary action is taken for it

The petitioner in the case Sujith T V vs. Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. (FACT) And Others, was an employee at Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. (FACT). He had shared messages in a private WhatsApp group for company technicians about safety issues concerning ammonia handling. However, FACT accused the petitioner of damaging the company’s reputation by spreading false and defamatory information, creating an impression of an unsafe working environment, and potentially inciting workers against the company. 

He was also charged for unauthorized entry in the ammonia handling section, despite his designated work area being elsewhere. He was initially suspended, and following the accusations, he expressed regret, sought pardon, and assured that such actions would not be repeated in his reply. The disciplinary authority accepted this regret and issued a punishment of ‘WARNING’.

The Kerala High Court Bench of Justice Sathish Nainan observed that merely voicing safety concerns does not support the charge of harming the company’s reputation. The court found that such a charge violates the employee’s right to freedom of speech as protected by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. It also observed that issuing a ‘WARNING’ without a formal inquiry, which could negatively impact the petitioner’s career, was unwarranted and declared it invalid. 

Kerala HC: Guardians are liable under section 199A of MV Act regardless of minor’s guilt

Section 199A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act), introduced in 2019, makes guardians or vehicle owners liable if a minor commits a driving offence. Several petitions were filed challenging FIRs or final reports against guardians/owners under Section 199A, arguing that these proceedings are invalid without a prior conviction or charge against the minor under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act).

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas of the Kerala High Court ruled that while the minor committing an offence under the Act is crucial, it is not mandatory to prove their guilt before initiating proceedings against the guardian or owner. This is because Section 199A establishes an independent offence, where information in the General Diary about the minor’s offence is sufficient to begin proceedings.

The court analyzed the purpose of Section 199A, emphasizing accountability for guardians and owners to deter minors from driving and prevent accidents. It clarified that the minor is not directly accused under Section 199A, but only the guardian or owner can be prosecuted. The court also discussed proceedings under the JJ Act, stating that termination of proceedings against the minor also ends proceedings against the guardian or owner under Section 199A, unless the minor is found guilty. The court dismissed all petitions, indicating that the proceedings under Section 199A of the MV Act could continue independently of the JJ Act.

Madras HC: When a child is adopted, all ties with their biological family are legally severed and replaced by new ties created within the adoptive family

The writ petition, V Sakthivel vs. The Revenue Divisional Officer, challenged an order dated 2020 by the first respondent, which cancelled a legal heirship certificate issued by the second respondent and mandated a fresh enquiry. The petitioner, the grandson of the Late Sengota Gounder, is the son of Varanavasi, one of Sengota Gounder’s three children. Ramasamy, another child of Sengota Gounder, had no biological children and adopted Kottravel Sethupathi in 1999. Upon the deaths of Ramasamy and his wife, Kottravel became their sole legal heir. Kottravel died in 2020, leaving no first-class heirs under the Hindu Succession Act of 1956.

The petitioner and other family members applied for a legal heirship certificate, which was issued in 2020. The central issue is the legal ties created by Kottravel’s adoption. According to Section 12 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, an adopted child’s ties with their biological family are severed and replaced by ties with the adoptive family.

Justice GK Ilanthiraiyan of the Madras High Court found that the first respondent incorrectly included Kottravel’s biological siblings as legal heirs, which contradicted Section 12 of the Act. The petitioner’s counsel cited the case of M G Mamtha vs. C Soundarya, reinforcing that adoption severs biological ties and grants full rights to the adoptive family. The court quashed the first respondent’s order, ruling it was in contravention of the law, and upheld the legal heirship certificate. The writ petition was allowed reaffirming the principle that adoption creates new legal ties and severs biological ones.

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About Author

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.

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