Kerala Court Granting Accused Bail As The Woman Wore ‘Provocative Dress’, Sparks Debate Online

Being sexually harassed is a life-altering event that leaves a grim mark and memory in the mind of the victim. Having said that, accusing someone of sexual harassment also comes with a huge responsibility as the punishments associated with it legally are also life-changing.

Hence, it needs to be properly scrutinized while keeping in mind all the aspects before holding someone accountable.

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But a sessions court in Kerala’s Kozhikode has granted anticipatory bail to the accused in a sexual harassment case saying the charges against him under the Indian Penal Code’s Section 354A will not prima facie stand if the complainant was wearing a ‘provocative dress’.

Giving some insight into the case, Hindustan Times reported that a woman accused author and activist Civic Chandran (74) of sexually harassing her and allegedly molesting her two years ago in 2020.

According to the court order, the complainant, a young writer, said that when they were returning from a writers conference, the accused forcefully took her to a lonely place and forced her to lie on his lap. He then allegedly harassed her physically and outraged her modesty.

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And it was only after repeated attempts that the complainant filed the FIR two years later in July 2022, when the alleged molestation happened in Feb 2020. Countering the allegations, the defense council claimed that it was a false case cooked up by the enemies of the accused to defame him and take vengeance.

Producing photographs of the complainant that were shared on social media, the accused social activist said that she “herself is exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one” (sic) and that it’s impossible to believe that a 74-year-old physically disabled man can force a woman to sit on his lap and press her breast, reports The Telegraph.

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The court observed:

“The photographs produced along with the bail application by the accused would reveal that the defacto complainant herself is exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one. So sexual 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused.”

Moreover, “Even admitting that there was a physical contact, it is impossible to believe that a man aged 74 and physically disabled can forcefully put the defacto complainant in his lap and sexually press her breast.” So the court thought it was a “fit case wherein the accused can be granted bail.”

The District Sessions Court granting bail to the accused citing that the woman was wearing a “sexually provocative dress” has sparked a debate online with people criticizing this judgment.

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People online seem divided on this verdict after going through the case details. What are your views on it?

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