Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty. This section is enacted to protect a woman against indecent assault as well as safeguard public morality and decent behaviour.
Ingredients of this section include criminal force or assault used on a woman, and the accused had an intention to outrage woman modesty.
The term woman’s modesty depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Punishment to the accused under this section involves the imprisonment of a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years.
Two Important Cases Related to Outraging a Woman’s Modesty
Here are the views of the Supreme Court of India in cases related to outraging a woman’s modesty
1. In Ram Kripal vs State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court of India defined modesty. In this case, the accused argued that he should not be held guilty of an offence of rape under section 375 of IPC, as he was guilty of outraging a woman’s modesty.
The court rejected his view and stated that the essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex. The court explained that the act of pulling a woman, removing her saree, together with a request for sexual intercourse, would be an outrage to the modesty of the woman.
The court also stated that section 375 IPC involves “sexual intercourse”, which includes penetration, which in itself is sufficient to constitute an offence of rape.
2. In the State of Punjab vs Major Singh, the accused had injured the vagina of a seven and a half-month-old child by fingering. The Indian Supreme Court held that the essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex, young or old, intelligent or imbecile, awake or sleeping; a woman possesses a modesty capable of being outraged.
Ankita Trivedi has written this post. She is a practising advocate in New Delhi, having expertise in various legal fields.