10 June 2024


Supreme Court

SPS Rathore v. CBI & Ors.




Mere knowledge that modesty of a woman is likely to be outraged is sufficient to constitute offence

Instant appeal filed against judgment of High Court dismissing revision petition filed by SPS Rathore-Appellant-accused, a member of prestigious service of country, was on deputation with Bhakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Chandigarh as Director (Vigilance & Security) at relevant time. Appellant-accused was held guilty of offence under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code.

In order to constitute offence under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code, mere knowledge that, modesty of a woman is likely to be outraged is sufficient without any deliberate intention of having such outrage alone for its object. There is no abstract conception of modesty that can apply to all cases. A careful approach has to be adopted by Court while dealing with a case alleging outrage of modesty. Essential ingredients of the offence under Section 354 Indian Penal Code are that the person assaulted must be a woman; that the accused must have used criminal force on her; and that the criminal force must have been used on the woman intending thereby to outrage her modesty.

Further, Section 157 of Evidence Act envisages two categories of statements of witnesses, which can be used for corroboration. First is statement made by a witness to any person at or about the time when incident took place. Second is statement made by him to any authority legally competent to investigate the matter. Such statements gain admissibility, no matter that it was made long after the incident. But if statement was made to non-authority, it loses its probative value due to lapse of time. To make a person an authority legally competent to investigate, it is not necessary that he should be having authority which flows from a Statute. It is sufficient that such person was authorized legally by State Government to investigate the matter.

Also, no particular number of witnesses is required for proving certain fact. It is quality and not quantity of witnesses that matters. Evidence is weighed and not counted. Evidence of even a single eye witness, truthful, consistent and inspiring confidence is sufficient for maintaining conviction. It is not necessary that, all those persons who were present at spot must be examined by prosecution in order to prove the guilt of accused.

Additionally, uncorroborated evidence of a hand writing expert is an extremely weak type of evidence and same should not be relied upon either for the conviction or for acquittal. Courts, should, therefore, be wary to give too much weight to the evidence of handwriting expert. It can rarely, if ever, take the place of substantive evidence. Before acting on such evidence, it is usual to see if it is corroborated either by clear, direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence.

In view of above, Supreme Court opined that Ms. Aradhana (PW-13) withstood her testimony from beginning till the end and her deposition was found reliable and corroborative with other prosecution witnesses and both Courts below were right in upholding conviction of Appellant-accused under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code. Supreme Court confirmed conviction of Appellant-accused under Section 354 of Indian Penal Code while modifying sentence to the period already undergone.


Section 354 of Indian Penal Code, 1860

Tags : Modesty Outrage Conviction

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