The Delhi High Court has recently remarked on the unfortunate trend of registering fake FIRs in connection with sexual offences against women, either to force a party from withdrawing a complaint instituted against them or to “arm-twist a party”.
Justice Subramonium Prasad said, “Unfortunately, it is now becoming a trend to register FIRs alleging offences under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D IPC either to force a party from withdrawing a complaint instituted against them or to arm twist a party. Offences under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D IPC are serious offences.”
The Indian Penal Code sections 354 deals with the offence of assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, 354A lays down the punishment for sexual harassment, 354B relates to the offence of assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe, 354C covers the offence of voyeurism and 354D deals with the offence of stalking.
The court was hearing petitions for quashing two FIRs registered under offences of insulting a woman’s modesty, criminal intimidation, voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful restraint, assault with intention to disrobe and sexual harassment.
But with the intervention of some common friends, relatives and family members, the parties settled their dispute and an oral settlement had been reached between them. The court noted that the parties “have realised their mistake and they have decided to compromise the matter.” Thereafter, the parties approached the court for the quashing of the FIRs.
Justice Prasad made some stern remarks as allegations of such nature have the effect of tarnishing the image of the person against whom such allegations are made. “Allegations regarding these offences cannot be made at a drop of a hat. This practice is an abuse of the process of law. The instant case is a classic example as to how frivolous allegations of Section 354 and 354A have been levelled by the parties against each other”, he said.
The High Court also said that such frivolous FIRs overburden the police force with extra work. “This court can take judicial notice of the fact that the police force is very limited. Police personnel have to spend time investigating frivolous cases. They have to attend court proceedings, prepare Status Report etc. The result is that investigation in serious offences gets compromised and accused escape because of shoddy investigation,” he commented.
Justice Prasad suggested that it is important to initiate action against persons who file frivolous complaints under such serious provisions only for ‘ulterior purpose’. In the instant case, since the Delhi police spent time in investigating the offence and considerable time had been spent by the Court in the criminal proceedings, the High Court imposed a cost of Rs.30,000 on the petitioners with a warning to not file false and frivolous cases.
The judgment may be read here: