Writing a woman’s phone number in gents’ toilet amounts to sexual harassment: HC

Stringent action needed, observes the court

Bengaluru: In an important verdict, the Karnataka High Court has ruled that writing the phone number of a woman as the contact number of a call girl in a gents’ toilet amounts to sexual harassment.

Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court (HC) observed that there was no need to injure someone physically. A woman’s modesty can be enraged by posting obnoxious statements, pictures or video clips about her on social media in this digital age. Such cases should be dealt with sternly.

Justice Nagaprasanna added, “Engraving a woman’s phone number on the wall of a gents’ toilet is an offence under section 509 of the IPC. The petitioner has insulted the woman by doing so. He cannot go scot-free by making such a base comment against a woman at a public place.”

The petitioner, Alla Baksh Patel (38) filed a petition in the high court pleading quashing of the charge sheet. He wrote the mobile number of the victim in a gents’ toilet as a call girl’s number. She started getting calls and was mentally harassed. The police finally nabbed Patel and filed the charge sheet against him, against which he moved the court.

The victim was working as a health assistant in a primary health centre. She had provided her number to her seniors as a part of her government job. Suddenly, she started getting calls at odd hours from various unknown numbers.

Some callers abused her on the phone while others threatened her. She came to know after inquiry that her phone number was written in the gents’ toilet of the Majestic Bus Stop in Bengaluru.

She then lodged a complaint with the police. The police detained Patel and chargesheeted him under sections 501 (defamatory writing), 504 (hurling abuses), 507 (making threatening anonymous calls) and 509 (outraging modesty).

Later, Patel filed the petition to cancel the charge sheet. He, through his lawyer, argued that the offence does not fall under section 509 of the IPC while sections 504 and 507 are non- cognizable.

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