The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has held that abusing or using filthy language to annoy someone can be an offence, even if it does not take place in a public place.
The accused in this case had been convicted by a lower court under Section 294 (obscene acts and songs) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to this section, “whoever, to the annoyance of others... sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three months.”
Jaichand Pancham Patil (32) was convicted by a metropolitan magistrate’s court in 1999 for abusing his neighbour Ratnamala, while standing on his own premises.
He also assaulted her.
The court sentenced him to one month’s imprisonment.
The sessions court upheld the ruling, so he moved the high court.
Patil’s lawyer argued that as per Section 294, abusing must take place in or near a public place, and this offence
cannot take place on private premises.
However, rejecting the appeal, Justice A.B. Chaudhary of Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court held in the ruling last week that verbal abuse need not happen in a public place.
Since the accused’s and his neighbour’s houses were abutting a public road, the judge held that it was “near” a public place.