Bombay High Court suspended the sentence of a convict in the case of molestation of a former actor.
A woman may know less but she understands more and knows the intention when a man touches her or even looks at her, the Bombay High Court said while suspending the sentence of a convict in the case of molestation of a former actor.
Justice Prithviraj Chavan was hearing an appeal filed by a 41-year-old businessman Vikas Sachdev, convicted for molesting the former actor on board a domestic flight in December 2017. The court on Tuesday admitted Sachdev's appeal and suspended his sentence till the appeal his heard and decided.
A sessions court had on January 15, 2020 convicted Sachdev for outraging modesty and under POCSO Act, as the victim was a minor when the incident took place. He was awarded three years' imprisonment in the case.
The sessions court had on the same day granted bail to Sachdev and suspended the sentence imposed upon him for aperiod of three months.
On February 20, the businessman filed an appeal before the high court, claiming that the trial court erred in finding him guilty. Sachdev's lawyer Aniket Nikam told the high court onTuesday that his client has been wrongly convicted and even if his leg had touched the victim, it must have been a mistake and without any intention to harass her.
Justice Chavan, however, asked why Sachdev had to keephis leg on the arm rest of the seat ahead of him. "A woman may know less but she understands more. It isa natural gift…touch…look…a man will not understand buta woman knows the intention behind these," the judge said. It is only the victim who can talk about the accusedperson's mens rea (intention), the judge said, adding theaccused will never admit that he touched intentionally.
"You (Sachdev) were travelling in business class whereyou have lot of space, then why keep your leg on someoneelse's arm rest?" the judge asked. When Nikam argued that the victim did not complain tothe flight crew members and walked out of the flight smiling,the court said there is no formula on how a woman shouldbehave or react to such incidents. "This is not mathematics. There is no strait jacket formula on how a woman would behave or react when faced withsuch a situation," the court said.
Justice Chavan said there will hardly be any woman whohas not experienced such incidents in local train and buses. The bench admitted Sachdev's appeal and suspended hissentence till the appeal is heard and disposed of. "There is no scope of the appeal being heard anddecided in the near future and since the sentence imposed onthe applicant (Sachdev) is short, the sentence standssuspended," the court said.
The court directed Sachdev to submit a fresh bail bondof Rs 25,000 and to not leave Mumbai without prior permissionfrom the sessions court.
Nikam also argued that there were contradictionsbetween statements given by the victim and other eyewitnesses. "The crew members of the flight had deposed that theaccused was sleeping throughout the flight," he argued. The incident took place when the victim, then 17 yearsold, was travelling by an Air Vistara flight from Delhi toMumbai. After landing, the victim narrated the ordeal througha video post on Instagram. Sachdev was subsequently arrested and later releasedon bail.