The Bombay high court has held that courts should not show any leniency when deciding cases where a woman’s modesty has been outraged and that the action against those found guilty should serve as a deterrent to others.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by Namdeo Agarkar against the verdict of a special judge under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act sentencing him to six months in jail and a fine for trespassing into a woman’s home and trying to force himself on her.
While upholding the sentence by the lower court, the high court on August 3 held that “the offender needs to be punished to deter prospective criminals when any woman is indecently assaulted or when her dignity is shattered.”
According to the prosecution, on February 3, 2002, the accused trespassed into the victim’s house in Madavghorad village in Nagpur when her husband and children were away and outraged her modesty. The woman’s cries attracted the attention of her relatives staying nearby, whose arrival saw the accused scurry away from the scene.
The defence’s argument that it was a false complaint was countered by the court, which said: “looking into the culture of the villages in India, no married lady having family of husband and children would like to lodge false complaint at the cost of her reputation”. Defence’s plea for leniency on the ground that the accused had no criminal antecedents too was dismissed by the court.