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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

Mumbai man convicted for sexual harassment after 4 years

He has already served his jail time of one year as an undertrial and was let off with a fine of ₹5,000

mumbai Updated: Jun 12, 2018 23:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

A special court on Monday convicted a 24-year-old labourer for groping a girl in Goregaon (east) four years ago when she had stepped out to relieve herself with two other women.

As per the prosecution, the girl was 10 years old at the time of the incident in June 2014. The girl, her mother and another woman had gone to defecate on an open ground near a cowshed in Goregaon (east) around 9.40 pm. While she was awaiting her turn, the prosecution claimed, the labourer appeared on the spot and touched her inappropriately. The suspect was identified as Venkatesh Devendra and was soon arrested by the police.

The prosecution examined six witnesses including the mother of the victim in support of its case against Devendra. One witness told the court that the girl bit the accused man’s hand when he tried to shut her mouth and lift her.

The defence advocate argued that the prosecution could not prove the age of the girl who was harassed and owing to darkness at the time of the incident, she could not verify the identity of the man who groped her.

The court accepted the defence’s plea, seeing merit in the claim that a bonafide certificate showing the girl’s year of birth was not proper proof of her age and it could not be ascertained that she was a minor when she was harassed. Therefore, the accused was acquitted of the charges levelled under section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

But the court convicted Devendra under section 354 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for outraging the modesty of a woman. Special judge AD Deo said, “Considering the evidence on record, I am of the view that act of accused is an offence under section 354 A of IPC. Though the charge 354A is not specifically framed against the accused, but the evidence on record shows that the act of the accused falls under section 354A(i) of IPC.”

Under this section, the convicted person is sentenced to a maximum period of one year in jail but since Devendra had already spent three years in jail as an undertrial, the court , following its sentencing, ordered him to pay a fine of ₹5,000.