Saturday, 24 September 2016

Whether Mere knowledge that modesty of a woman is likely to be outraged is sufficient to attract S 354 IPC ?

 In order to constitute the offence under Section 354 of
the IPC, mere knowledge that the modesty of a woman is likely
to be outraged is sufficient without any deliberate intention of
having such outrage alone for its object. There is no abstract
conception of modesty that can apply to all cases. A careful
approach has to be adopted by the court while dealing with a
case alleging outrage of modesty. The essential ingredients of
the offence under Section 354 IPC are as under:
(i) that the person assaulted must be a woman;
(ii) that the accused must have used criminal force on
 her; and
(iii) that the criminal force must have been used on the
 woman intending thereby to outrage her modesty.
23) This Court, in Vidyadharan vs. State of Kerala (2004)
1 SCC 215, held as under

“10. Intention is not the sole criterion of the offence
punishable under Section 354 IPC, and it can be committed
by a person assaulting or using criminal force to any woman,
if he knows that by such act the modesty of the woman is
likely to be affected. Knowledge and intention are essentially
things of the mind and cannot be demonstrated like physical
objects. The existence of intention or knowledge has to be
culled out from various circumstances in which and upon
whom the alleged offence is alleged to have been committed.
A victim of molestation and indignation is in the same
position as an injured witness and her testimony should
receive the same weight …..”
24) It is undoubtedly correct that if intention or knowledge is
one of the ingredients of any offence, it has got to be proved
like other ingredients for convicting a person. But, it is also
equally true that those ingredients being state of mind may
not be proved by direct evidence and may have to be inferred
from the attending circumstances of a given case. The
sequence of events which we have detailed earlier indicates
that the appellant-accused had the requisite culpable
intention.
25) This Court, in Tarkeshwar Sahu vs. State of Bihar,
(2006) 8 SCC 560, held as under:-
“39. So far as the offence under Section 354 IPC is concerned,
intention to outrage the modesty of a woman or knowledge that
the act of the accused would result in outraging her modesty is
the gravamen of the offence.

40. The essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex. The culpable
intention of the accused is the crux of the matter. The reaction
of the woman is very relevant, but its absence is not always
decisive. Modesty is an attribute associated with female human
beings as a class. It is a virtue which attaches to a female owing
to her sex.”
 REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
 CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2126 OF 2010
S.P.S. Rathore C.B.I. & Anr.
Dated:SEPTEMBER 23, 2016.
Citation:AIR 2016 SC 4486





1) This appeal has been filed against the judgment and
order dated 01.09.2010 passed by the High Court of Punjab
and Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal Revision No. 1558 of
2010 whereby learned single Judge of the High Court
dismissed the revision petition filed by the appellant herein.
2) Brief facts:
(a) SPS Rathore-the appellant-accused, a member of the
prestigious service of the country, was on deputation with
Bhakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Chandigarh as
Director (Vigilance & Security) at the relevant time. He also

founded the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HLTA) in the
year 1988.
(b) The office of HLTA was established in the garage of House
No. 469, Sector 6, Panchkula, an under construction building
owned by the appellant-accused which was divided into three
portions wherein front portion was being used as the office of
HLTA and the other two portions were being utilized by T.
Thomas and Kuldeep Singh, Coach and Manager respectively
of the Association for residential purposes. HLTA enrolled
several member players who were mostly nearby residents of
Panchkula on payment of monthly subscription.
(c) Ms. Ruchika (since deceased), daughter of Shri S.C.
Girhotra and Ms. Aradhana @ Reemu, daughter of Shri Anand
Prakash and Madhu Prakash (the complainant), both aged
about 15 years, residents of Panchkula got themselves
enrolled as members of the HLTA. Both of them were good
friends and used to go together for practice at the Tennis
court. The appellant-accused was also a frequent visitor to
the said Tennis court. One day, when Ms. Ruchika informed
the appellant-accused about her plan to go abroad, the

appellant-accused met her father-Shri S.C. Girhotra on
11.08.1990 in order to persuade him to not to send his
daughter out of the country for specialized tennis coaching
and promised that special coaching would be arranged for her
at HLTA itself and also asked him to send Ruchika to his office
on the very next day in connection with the same. Shri
Girhotra informed the same to his daughter-Ruchika and
asked her to meet the appellant-accused in his office on
12.08.1990.
(d) On 12.08.1990, Ms. Ruchika visited the house of Ms.
Aradhana and told her about the visit of the appellant-accused
to her house and also that he had called her in his office.
When both of them were practicing in the tennis court,
Paltoo-the ball picker, informed Ms. Ruchika that the
appellant-accused had called her in his office. Accordingly,
Ms. Ruchika along with Ms. Aradhana went to meet the
appellant-accused who was standing outside the office at that
particular point of time. The appellant-accused insisted them
to come inside the office. On his insistence, both the girls went
inside the office. The appellant-accused got fetched one chair

which was occupied by Ms. Aradhana and Ms. Ruchika kept
standing on the right side of Ms. Aradhana while the
appellant-accused sat in his chair which was on the other side
of the table. The appellant-accused requested Ms. Aradhana to
call for Mr. Thomas-the Coach. Accordingly, Ms. Aradhana
went outside leaving behind the appellant-accused and Ms.
Ruchika in the office. Ms. Aradhana asked the person who
fetched the chair for her in the office to inform the Coach to
come to the office of the appellant-accused. However, the
Coach refused to come.
(e) Immediately thereafter, when Ms. Aradhana returned to
the office, she witnessed that Ms. Ruchika was in the grip of
the appellant-accused, who was holding one hand of Ruchika
in his hand and his other hand was around her waist. The
appellant-accused was pulling her towards his chest so as to
embrace her and Ruchika was trying to push him back with
her free hand.
(f) On seeing Ms. Aradhana (PW-13), the appellant-accused
got frightened and released Ms. Ruchika and fell on his chair.
The appellant-accused asked Ms. Aradhana to go out of his

room again and personally bring the coach with her. The
appellant-accused insisted Ruchika to stay in his room, but
she somehow managed to escape. When Aradhana was about
to go behind Ruchika, the appellant-accused told her “Ask her
to cool down, I will do whatever she will say”. After listening to
this, Ms. Aradhana also ran behind Ms. Ruchika to enquire
about the matter. Thereafter, Ruchika narrated the whole
incident to her. After discussion, both the girls decided not to
inform the same to their parents as the appellant-accused,
being IG of Police, could involve or harass them and their
parents.
(g) On 14.08.1990, Ms. Ruchika along with Ms. Aradhana
went to the lawn tennis court at about 4:30 p.m., instead of
their usual timing, in order to avoid the appellant-accused,
who used to visit the court in the evening. When both the girls
were about to return, at about 6:30 p.m., Mr. Paltoo-the ball
picker, came out of the court and told Ms. Ruchika that the
appellant-accused had called her in his office. However, Ms.
Ruchika refused to meet him and pointed out to Ms. Aradhana
that since they had not informed their parents about the

mis-behaviour of the appellant-accused on 12.08.1990, the
appellant-accused was feeling emboldened and had again
called her to his office with a view to molest her. Thereafter,
both of them decided to disclose the incident that took place
on 12.08.1990 to their respective parents. Accordingly,
Ruchika narrated the incident of her molestation at the hands
of the appellant-accused to her father, Shri S. C. Girhotra.
Also, the parents of Ms. Aradhana were made aware of the
entire incident.
(h) On hearing this, Shri S.C. Girhotra, gathered the
residents of the locality, who were mostly parents of trainee
boys and girls, and they went to the HLTA office to meet the
appellant-accused but they were informed that the
appellant-accused had already left for Chandigarh. On
15.08.1990, a Memorandum/petition, duly signed by Ms.
Ruchika, Ms. Aradhana, Mr. Anand Prakash and Ms. Madhu
Prakash-father and mother of Ms. Aradhana, was presented to
the then Secretary (Home), Haryana. After the approval of the
Home Minister, Shri R.R. Singh, the then DGP was directed to

hold an inquiry into the allegations leveled against the
appellant-accused in the Memorandum/petition.
(i) After conducting the enquiry into the incident, Shri R.R.
Singh concluded that the allegation of molestation is based on
true facts and a cognizable case is made out against the
appellant-accused under the provisions of the Indian Penal
Code, 1860 (in short ‘the IPC’) and forwarded his enquiry
report dated 03.09.1990 to the Secretary (Home), Government
of Haryana.
(j) During investigation it was also revealed that after the
incident of molestation, Ms. Ruchika confined herself in her
house. Later, on 28.12.1993, she committed suicide by
consuming poison and died on 29.12.1993.
(k) The enquiry report by Shri R.R. Singh was examined by
the Legal Division of the Government of Haryana in 1990 and
1992 which also recommended for registration of a case
against the appellant-accused. Madhu Prakash-the
complainant/Respondent No. 2 herein requested several
authorities in the Government of Haryana for registration of a
case but no action was taken on which she filed a Criminal

Writ Petition being No. 1694 of 1997 before the Punjab and
Haryana High Court. The High Court, vide order dated
21.08.1998, issued direction to the Superintendent of Police,
Panchkula that after registration of the case, the investigation
shall be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) and the same shall be conducted by an officer not below
the rank of DIG. This Court, by its order dated 14.12.1999,
upheld the order of the High Court dated 21.08.1998 which
culminated into registration of a First Information Report (FIR)
being No. 516 of 1999 under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC
at PS Panchkula, Haryana against the appellant-accused.
(l) The CBI filed charge-sheet dated 16.11.2000 before the
Court of Special Judicial Magistrate, CBI, Ambala under
Section 354 of the IPC. A petition under Section 473 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short ‘the Code’) was
filed by the CBI for condoning the delay in filing the charge
sheet and for taking cognizance which was allowed by the
Court of Special Judicial Magistrate, by his order dated
05.12.2000. Being aggrieved by the order dated 05.12.2000,
the appellant-accused preferred Writ Petition (Criminal) being

No. 46381 of 2000 before the High Court challenging the
condonation of delay. The High Court, by its order dated
18.04.2001 dismissed the petition with a direction to the trial
court to dispose of the case preferably within six months.
(m) Further, a petition was filed for addition of Section 306
IPC in the charge sheet which was allowed by an order of the
Trial Court dated 23.10.2001. Being aggrieved by the order
dated 23.10.2001, the appellant-accused preferred Criminal
Misc. Petition being No. 44607-M/2011 before the High Court.
The High Court, by its order dated 12.02.2002, set aside the
order dated 23.10.2001 passed by the Trial Court. In appeal,
this Court also upheld the order dated 12.02.2002 passed by
the High Court.
(n) The Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh, by
its judgment and order dated 21.12.2009 in Challan No.
3/17-11-2000, 12 T/10.04.2006 RBT191/17-11-2009, held
the appellant-accused guilty of offence under Section 354 of
the IPC and sentenced him to suffer rigorous imprisonment
(RI) for six months along with a fine of Rs. 1,000/-. Being
aggrieved by the judgment and order dated 21.12.2009, the

appellant-accused preferred Criminal Appeal being No. 5 of
12.01.2010 before the Court of Additional Sessions Judge,
Chandigarh. The CBI and Madhu Prakash-Respondent No. 2
herein also preferred Criminal Appeal being Nos. 26 of
12.01.2010 and 22 of 05.02.2010 respectively, before the
Court for enhancement of sentence. Learned Additional
Sessions Judge, Chandigarh, by his order dated 25.05.2010
dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant-accused while
allowing the appeals filed by the CBI and Madhu Prakash for
inadequacy of the sentence and for enhancement of sentence
of imprisonment and the appellant-accused was awarded with
rigorous imprisonment for 1 ½ years (one and a half) for
committing offence under Section 354 of the IPC. The
sentence of fine remained unchanged.
(o) Being aggrieved of the judgment and order dated
25.05.2010, the appellant-accused preferred Criminal Revision
being No. 1558 of 2010 before the High Court. The High
Court, by its order dated 01.09.2010, dismissed the revision
filed by the appellant-accused.

(p) Aggrieved by the above said order, the appellant-accused
has preferred this petition by way of special leave before this
Court. This Court, by its order dated 11.11.2010, has allowed
the petition filed by the appellant-accused for bail.
3) Heard Shri K.V. Viswanathan, learned senior counsel for
the appellant-accused and Ms. Vibha Datta Makhija, learned
senior counsel for the CBI and Shri Vikas Mehta, learned
counsel for Respondent No. 2.
Rival contentions:
4) Learned senior counsel for the appellant-accused
contended that given the situation of the HLTA make shift
office in a garage at the relevant point of time along with the
presence of a number of people including labourers, it would
be impossible to even try for such an act, knowing well that
the act can be seen by others. Learned senior counsel further
contended that the prosecution story is absolutely false and
frivolous and the appellant-accused has been framed in the
present case by the complainant party and the high level
officers of the State with an ulterior motive. The
appellant-accused neither visited the house of Shri S.C.

Girhotra nor asked for a meeting with Ruchika on 12.08.1990
in HLTA office. It was further argued that the
Memorandum/petition has been drafted after prolonged
consideration and deliberation by several interested persons
including some senior police officers of the State of Haryana.
The name of the players who were allegedly accompanying Ms.
Ruchika at the relevant time has not been mentioned in the
Memorandum intentionally and later on Ms. Aradhana has
been planted as ‘Sathi Khiladi’. It was contended that the
words ‘Sathi Khiladi’ have been mentioned in the
Memorandum for the purpose of introducing an eye witness of
choice. Learned senior counsel further contended that the
signature of Ms. Ruchika on the alleged Memorandum is false
and forged and on this ground, the document cannot be relied
upon. This document does not disclose the details of the
incident and merely suggests that the appellant-accused
misbehaved with Ms. Ruchika which does not attract Section
354 of the IPC.
5) Learned senior counsel further contended that no
complaint was filed by Ms. Ruchika or her father Shri S.C.

Girhotra or Shri Ashu - elder brother of Ms. Ruchika or Mrs.
Madhu Prakash (PW-2) or Sh. Anand Prakash (PW-1) or by
Ms. Aradhana (PW-13) in the police station. Even after
14.08.1990, when Ms. Ruchika and Ms. Aradhana allegedly
informed their parents, none of them approached the police to
get the FIR registered. The police post, Sector 6, Panchkula is
at a distance of 300 yards only from the tennis court. It is
situated very near to the house of Shri S.C. Girhotra also. In
this way undue and unexplained delay resulted in
manipulations and proper version could not be put forth
before the court.
6) Learned senior counsel for the appellant-accused further
contended that the inquiry conducted by Shri R.R. Singh was
without jurisdiction as the appellant-accused, at the relevant
point of time, was on deputation with the BBMB and was not
under the administrative control of the Government of
Haryana. He further contended that the IAS lobby in the
Government of Haryana was entirely against the
appellant-accused and it had colluded with Shri Anand
Prakash (PW-1) and others against the appellant-accused. He

further pointed out the reason that there was rivalry between
the two tennis associations, one headed by the
appellant-accused and one formed later on by the IAS group
with Shri J.K. Duggal, Secretary (Home) as its President with
the patronage of Shri B.S. Ojha. It was further contended
from the side of the appellant-accused that before forming the
Haryana Tennis Association (HTA), the IAS lobby pressurized
the appellant-accused to step down from the Presidentship of
HLTA in favour of Shri B.S. Ojha to which the
appellant-accused refused which annoyed Shri B.S. Ojha, who
had strong reasons for ordering the enquiry by Shri R.R. Singh
and police officers working under him had organized the
drafting of the said Memorandum against the
appellant-accused. The enquiry conducted by Shri R.R. Singh
cannot be relied upon because no enquiry could be marked to
him and also he has not held the enquiry in proper manner. It
was further submitted by learned senior counsel that the
media has played a negative role in the present case and
published the selective news items only in collusion with the
complainant party. The material witnesses like ball picker -

Paltoo and Coach - K.T. Thomas, who were allegedly present at
the place of alleged incident, have not been examined by the
prosecution. Further, the witnesses have made a lot of
improvements and there are other discrepancies also in the
statements of witnesses and therefore, the same could not
have been relied upon by the courts below. Learned senior
counsel finally contended that the case of the prosecution is
false and frivolous, the net result of which is that the
prosecution has failed to prove its case and the
appellant-accused is entitled to be acquitted.
7) Per contra, learned senior counsel for the CBI submitted
that the occurrence is well proved by the unimpeachable
testimony of Ms. Aradhana (PW-13). The eye witness stood
with her testimony till end and therefore, the contention urged
on behalf of the appellant-accused with regard to the above
evidence has no relevance or substance. On a careful
examination of the statement of PW-13, it can be very easy to
arrive at the conclusion that there was every possibility that
Ms. Ruchika could have been embraced by the
appellant-accused in the manner that the eye-witness
15Page 16
eventually described in her deposition before the trial court.
Even Shri S.C. Girhotra – father of Ms. Ruchika has
categorically deposed that the appellant-accused met him and
requested him not to send his daughter abroad and also
insisted to meet her in his office on 12.08.1990 which gets
corroboration from the statement of PW-13 that both the girls
went to meet the appellant-accused at his office at HLTA.
8) With regard to the claim of signature on the
Memorandum as well as on the application given to the SHO,
learned senior counsel for the CBI submitted that as far as the
signatures of Ms. Ruchika on the document are concerned,
Ms. Ruchika has signed the alleged Memorandum in the
presence of others and the same is established by the
witnesses like Ms. Aradhana, Mrs. Madhu Prakash and Sh.
Anand Prakash in whose presence she signed the documents,
which is a direct evidence. The evidence of expert witness
cannot be considered conclusive proof of the charge and it
requires independent and reliable evidence for its
corroboration. She further submitted that Ms. Ruchika was
the best person to depose about the genuineness of her
16Page 17
signatures, but as she is no more, therefore, she could not
appear in the witness box to depose about the genuineness of
her signature on the alleged Memorandum. In her absence,
the persons, in whose presence, she signed the document are
the best witnesses to prove the genuineness of the signature of
the victim. The strong direct evidence on record cannot be
rebutted by weak type of evidence of hand writing expert upon
which reliance is placed by the learned senior counsel on
behalf of the appellant-accused.
9) With regard to the contention urged by the
appellant-accused that Ms. Aradhana was the ‘Sathi Khiladi’
as mentioned in the Memorandum, on the basis of which FIR
got registered, was manipulated, learned senior counsel
submitted that a perusal of the contents of the Memorandum
reveals that it merely gives a sequence of events which had
happened from the very beginning and no manipulation
appears to be made out. Merely on the ground that Shri C.P.
Bansal, the then DIG and Shri Sham Lal Goyal, the then DSP
were present on the spot, it cannot be said that they actively
participated in its drafting and certain unnecessary and
17Page 18
unwarranted facts were added to it. If experienced police
officers would have participated in its drafting then it should
have been in the form of FIR and the evidence must have been
specifically pointed out in it. But the language of the
Memorandum is like that the people have tried to show their
resentment against the alleged act and demanded action
against the accused. The reason for not mentioning the name
of Ms. Aradhana in the Memorandum is that she could have
been harassed by the accused, who being a high ranking
police officer. Because of this reason only, Ms. Ruchika or Ms.
Aradhana or their parents did not approach the local police to
lodge the FIR. They were fully aware that the
appellant-accused, being a senior most police officer, holding a
key post in the State, would definitely hamper the
investigation or may not allow the police officers to cooperate
with the complainant party.
10) Learned senior counsel for the CBI further pointed out
that Shri R.R. Singh was an authority legally competent to
investigate the facts of the Memorandum and he was asked by
the Government of Haryana to enquire into the facts given in
18Page 19
the Memorandum and to submit a report to it. To make a
person an authority legally competent to investigate, it is not
necessary that he should be having authority which flows from
a Statute. It is sufficient that such person was authorized
legally by the State Government to investigate the fact. As
such, Sh. R.R. Singh was competent authority to investigate
the facts in question and the statements given by the
witnesses before him are admissible in evidence irrespective of
time gap between the time when the incidents occurred and
the date on which the statements were given.
11) Learned senior counsel for the CBI finally submitted that
the alleged rivalry between the HLTA and HTA as well as the
arguments advanced by learned senior counsel for the
appellant-accused regarding the credibility of Shri Anand
Prakash (PW-1) and Shri S.C. Girhotra (PW-15) have no
bearing on the case at hand and the prosecution has made out
a case for conviction of the appellant-accused under Section
354 of the IPC.
19Page 20
Discussion:
12) It is not disputed that HLTA was floated in 1988-89 at
Panchkula, Haryana. The appellant-accused was the President
of HLTA. Its office was established in the garage of an under
construction house at Sector 6, Panchkula owned by the
appellant-accused. It is also an admitted fact that Ms.
Aradhana (PW-13), Mr. Manish Arora (PW-3), Mr. Vipul
Chanana (PW-4) and Ms. Ruchika (since deceased) were the
members of the Association and used to play tennis in its
court. It is the case of the prosecution that on 11.08.1990, the
appellant-accused visited the house of Shri S.C. Girhotra
(PW-15) and requested him not to send his daughter to
Canada for coaching as he would arrange special coaching for
her at HLTA itself. This fact has been well proved by Shri S.C.
Girhotra (PW-15) in his statement. He has deposed before the
trial Court that on 11.08.1990, the appellant-accused visited
his house at about 12.00 noon and had asked him not to send
his daughter to Canada and that he would arrange special
coaching for her. The appellant-accused further asked him to
send his daughter on 12.08.1990, at about 12.00 noon, in his
20Page 21
office to discuss about the training. At that particular point of
time, Ms. Ruchika was not present at her house. On her
return, PW-15 informed the same to her and also asked her to
meet the appellant-accused on 12.08.1990 in his office at
12.00 noon. This fact finds corroboration from the statement
of Ms. Aradhana (PW-13). She has deposed that on
12.08.1990, at about 11.00 a.m., Ms. Ruchika came to her
house and she very excitedly told her that on 11.08.1990, the
appellant-accused had visited her house and requested her
father not to send her abroad and that he would arrange
special coaching for her at HLTA itself as she was a promising
player. She further informed Ms. Aradhana that the
appellant-accused had asked her to meet him on 12.08.1990,
at 12.00 noon, at HLTA office. The very same fact finds place
in the Memorandum also which was signed by Ms. Ruchika
along with others. The evidence of PW-15 corroborates with
the evidence of PW-13 in order to substantiate the fact that
the appellant-accused visited the house of Shri S.C. Girhotra
on 11.08.1990 and asked him to send Ms. Ruchika to his
office on 12.08.1990, at 12.00 noon.
21Page 22
13) Ms. Ruchika (since deceased) and Ms. Aradhana went to
play at lawn tennis court on 12.08.1990 and while they were
playing Sh. Paltoo-the ball picker came there and told Ms.
Ruchika that the appellant-accused had called her to his office
at 12.00 noon. Accordingly, Ms. Ruchika and Ms. Aradhana
went to his office. The appellant-accused asked Ms. Aradhana
to fetch the coach-Shri T. Thomas. While Ms. Aradhana had
left the place, the appellant-accused molested/outraged the
modesty of Ms. Ruchika. When Ms. Aradhana returned to the
office, she witnessed the appellant-accused molesting Ms.
Ruchika. Ms. Aradhana, in her statement, has categorically
deposed that on that day when both of them i.e., Ms. Ruchika
and Ms. Aradhana were playing tennis, Shri Paltoo, the ball
picker, came and informed Ms. Ruchika that the
appellant-accused had called her in HLTA office. They saw
that the appellant-accused was standing outside his office.
On seeing them, the appellant-accused asked them to come to
his office. Though Ms. Ruchika requested the
appellant-accused to talk to her outside the office, but he
insisted them to come to his office. On his insistence, they
22Page 23
followed him towards his office. On being asked by the
appellant-accused, a chair was brought on which Ms.
Aradhana (PW-13) sat down while Ruchika remained standing
on her right side. Immediately thereafter, the
appellant-accused asked Ms. Aradhana to fetch the coach-Mr.
T. Thomas. When she went outside to call the coach, she
found him standing at a distance on the other side of the
house across the road. She asked the ball picker-Paltoo to go
and fetch the coach. Mr. Thomas, on being informed about the
same by Mr. Paltoo, waved his hand towards Ms. Aradhana
expressing his inability to come at that moment. Thereafter,
Ms. Aradhana returned and when she entered the office, she
saw that the appellant-accused was holding one hand of Ms.
Ruchika and his other hand was around her waist. Ms.
Ruchika was trying hard to get herself released by pushing
him away with her other hand. On seeing Ms. Aradhana
(PW-13), the appellant-accused became nervous and released
Ms. Ruchika and fell down on his chair. When she informed
the appellant-accused that coach has refused to come to his
office, the appellant-accused rudely ordered her to go again
23Page 24
and call the coach personally. In the meantime, Ms. Ruchika
came to her side and went out of the office. When PW-13 was
trying to follow her, the appellant-accused told her “ask her to
cool down, I will do whatever she will say”. Thereafter, PW-13
followed Ms. Ruchika and when she reached near her,
Ruchika started weeping loudly. When she asked Ms.
Ruchika as to what had happened, she narrated that as soon
as she left to fetch the coach, the appellant-accused caught
hold of her hand which she got released with great difficulty,
but he again caught hold of her hand and with his other hand
the appellant-accused caught hold of her waist and dragged
her towards him and embraced her. She further told her that
in the meantime when PW-13 reached there, he got scared and
immediately released her. After discussion as to whether the
incident be disclosed to their parents or not, both of them
decided not to inform their parents about the incident as the
appellant-accused, being a high ranking police officer, could
harm their families. The molestation of Ms. Ruchika, at the
hands of the appellant-accused is very well proved from the
deposition of PW-13. There was no reason for Ms. Aradhana
24Page 25
(PW-13) to depose falsely. In fact, she witnessed the actual act
of molestation of Ms. Ruchika at the hands of the
appellant-accused. Further, the fact regarding molestation of
Ms. Ruchika by the appellant-accused has been stated on oath
by Shri Anand Prakash (PW-1), Mrs. Madhu Prakash (PW-2),
Mr. Manish Arora (PW-3), Mr. Vipul Chanan (PW-4) and Shri
S.C. Girhotra (PW-15). There is no reason as to why PW-13
and other aforementioned prosecution witnesses would falsely
implicate the appellant-accused in the case.
14) Ms. Ruchika and Ms. Aradhana visited the lawn tennis
court on 14.08.1990, at 4:30 p.m., instead of their usual
timing deliberately in order to avoid confrontation with the
appellant-accused, who usually used to visit the court in the
evening daily. At about 6.30 p.m., when they were about to
return after practice, Shri Paltoo – the ball picker, came over
the lawn tennis court and told Ms. Ruchika that the
appellant-accused had called her in his office immediately.
However, Ms. Ruchika refused to go there and told Ms.
Aradhana that since they had not informed about the incident
which took place on 12.08.1990 to their parents that has
25Page 26
emboldened the appellant-accused. Thereupon, they decided
to inform about the overt act of the appellant-accused to their
parents. They went to the house of Ms. Ruchika where they
met Shri S.C. Girhotra - father of Ms. Ruchika. Ms. Ruchika
started narrating the incident of molestation to her father,
however, she could not narrate the entire incident and broke
down, whereupon her father told Ms. Aradhana to take Ms.
Ruchika to her mother. They went to the house of Ms.
Aradhana where Mrs. Madhu Prakash (PW-2) and Shri Anand
Prakash (PW-1) were present. Ms. Ruchika disclosed the entire
incident to PW-2, who further informed her husband about the
said incident. Thereafter, Ms. Ruchika, Ms. Aradhana, Shri
Anand Prakash, Mrs. Madhu Prakash and Shri S.C. Girhotra
and other persons went to HLTA court to meet the
appellant-accused wherefrom they came to know that the
appellant-accused had already left for Chandigarh.
15) On 15.08.1990, a number of persons, who were mostly
players and their parents, gathered at the residence of Shri
Anand Prakash. They decided that the incident should be
brought to the notice of higher authorities including the Chief
26Page 27
Minister of Haryana. Accordingly, a Memorandum was
prepared. A number of copies of this Memorandum were
prepared for being handed over to different authorities. This
Memorandum was signed by Sh. Anand Prakash, Ms.
Ruchika, Mrs. Madhu Prakash, Meenu, Sangeet, Aradhana,
Anirudh, Beenu, Naresh Mittal, C.S. Gupta and Shri I.D.
Mittal. The witnesses who were examined in the court
identified their signatures as well as signatures of Ms. Ruchika
on the Memorandum. The appellant-accused disputed the
genuineness of signatures of Ms. Ruchika. He tried to
substantiate his contention by examining the hand writing
expert. The contention of the appellant-accused is not tenable
as the witnesses who have been examined by the prosecution
and in whose presence the Memorandum was signed, have
identified the signatures of Ms. Ruchika. Shri Anand Prakash
has proved the preparation of Memorandum. In this regard,
the law is very clear that a fact should be proved by the best
available evidence. The witnesses had identified the
signatures of Ms. Ruchika on the Memorandum, therefore, the
evidence of the hand writing expert cannot considered to be
27Page 28
safe and it requires corroboration from independent witnesses.
As already stated, the signatures of Ms. Ruchika have been
proved by the witnesses who have signed the Memorandum
and are direct, primary and best available evidence in the case
and, therefore, the same can be relied upon.
16) On 16.08.1990, the Memorandum was given to Shri J.K.
Duggal (PW-12), the then Secretary (Home) who assured them
that the matter would be enquired into. He asked the persons
who had presented the Memorandum to him to reach the lawn
tennis court where Shri S.K. Joshi, the then SDM would also
be reaching. After reaching there, they found a Notice dated
15.08.1990 declaring suspension of Ms. Ruchika with effect
from 13.08.1990 displayed on the Notice Board. Shri S.K.
Joshi, the then SDM also reached there. Shri Kuldeep
Singh-the Manager and Shri T. Thomas-the Coach were also
present there. On being asked, Shri Kuldeep Singh, in the
presence of witnesses, informed that he has affixed the notice
on the directions of the appellant-accused. He further
disclosed that Ms. Ruchika has committed no act of
indiscipline. On being asked, Shri Kuldeep Singh gave the
28Page 29
same facts in writing on the Notice. This fact was confirmed by
the Coach - Shri T. Thomas and he signed at a point where the
following words were written “I support the contents of the
endorsement of Sh. Kuldeep Singh”. He was also asked to give
it in writing, if any act of indiscipline has been committed by
Ms. Ruchika. On this, he made an endorsement to the effect
that to the best of his knowledge Ms. Ruchika has not done
any act of misbehavior or indiscipline in the HLTA tennis
court. This notice was produced by Shri Anand Prakash at
the time of his deposition before the trial court. It has also
come in his evidence that said notice was given to him by the
SDM immediately after making endorsement. These facts
have been proved by PW-1, PW-2, PW-3, PW-4, PW-5 and
PW-13. The presence of Shri Kuldeep Singh and Shri T.
Thomas on that day and time has already been proved by the
then SHO, Panchkula who was on patrolling duty on that date
and reached the spot on receiving verbal transmission
message about the incident.
29Page 30
17) Shri R.R. Singh was directed by the Chief Minister and
Home Minister of the State of Haryana to conduct an enquiry
into the allegations contained in the Memorandum. In
compliance of the said order, Shri R.R. Singh recorded the
statements of the witnesses including Mrs. Madhu Prakash
(PW-2), Ms. Aradhana (PW-13), Shri S.C. Girhotra (PW-15) and
Shri Anil Kumar. The statements of Ms. Ruchika and Shri
Anand Prakash (PW-1) were also recorded. After the enquiry,
he recommended that a case under the relevant provisions of
the IPC be got registered. Despite the fact that Shri R.R. Singh
had recommended the registration of a case against the
appellant-accused, no action was taken by the State
Government. It is most surprising that no value was attached
to the said Report and to the recommendations made by such
a high ranking police officer i.e., Director General of Police,
Haryana.
18) It has also been argued from the side of the
appellant-accused that Shri B.S. Ojha and Shri J.K. Duggal
were having great grudge against him. It was further
contended that the relations between the appellant-accused
30Page 31
and Shri R.R. Singh were strained since 1976. But this
suggestion was denied by the witness while appearing in the
court. Learned senior counsel for the CBI has strenuously
submitted that a proper report was given by Shri R.R. Singh
and it is a matter of common experience that no girl or father
would make a false complaint of such heinous nature even
against their enemy.
19) Shri R.R. Singh had conducted the enquiry under the
orders of the Government of Haryana, therefore, he was
competent to investigate/enquire into the allegations made in
the Memorandum. As such, all the statements recorded by
him are admissible under Section 157 of the Indian Evidence
Act for the purpose of corroboration. Shri J.K. Duggal and
Shri B.S. Ojha are independent witnesses and they have no
grudge against the appellant-accused as alleged by the learned
senior counsel. For the sake of arguments, even if it is
assumed to be correct that there was some dispute over the
control of HLTA between them, it was not such a big issue
which would have induced them to implicate the
appellant-accused falsely. There is no evidence on record to
31Page 32
substantiate the allegations that these two officers were in any
way instrumental in preparation of Memorandum or
implicating the appellant-accused in the case. There is also no
evidence on record to suggest any nexus of these two officers
with Shri Anand Prakash (PW-1) and Shri S.C. Girhotra
(PW-15). There is no evidence to suggest any enmity between
the appellant-accused and PW-1 to implicate him in a
fabricated case. It is further the case of the appellant-accused
that statement recorded by Shri R.R. Singh cannot be used by
the prosecution for the purpose of corroboration under Section
157 of the Evidence Act. The contention of the accused is not
tenable at all. This section envisages two categories of
statements of witnesses, which can be used for corroboration.
First is the statement made by a witness to any person at or
about the time when the incident took place. The second is the
statement made by him to any authority legally competent to
investigate the matter. Such statements gain admissibility, no
matter that it was made long after the incident. But if the
statement was made to non-authority, it loses its probative
value due to lapse of time. Shri R.R. Singh was an authority
32Page 33
legally competent to investigate the incident. He was asked by
the State Government to enquire into the facts given in the
Memorandum and report thereon. To make a person an
authority legally competent to investigate, it is not necessary
that he should be having authority which flows from a Statute.
It is sufficient that such person was authorized legally by the
State Government to investigate the matter. Hence, we are of
the view that Shri R.R. Singh was authority competent to
investigate the fact in question and the statements given by
the witnesses before him are admissible in evidence
irrespective of time gap between the time when incidents
occurred and the date on which the statements were given.
Shri R.R. Singh was in fact competent to investigate the
matter since the enquiry conducted by him was merely a fact
finding enquiry. The undisputed fact is that nothing
happened even after the submission of the report by Shri R.R.
Singh because no action was taken by the State Government
on the same. Further, all the witnesses including Sh. J.K.
Duggal and Shri B.S. Ojha examined by the prosecution are

the independent witnesses and the enmity, as suggested by
the appellant-accused, is not proved, as discussed above.
20) Learned senior counsel for the appellant-accused has
contended that in the present fact situation, how a person can
embrace other while standing behind the table and then
suddenly fall into his chair on the entry of PW-13. In this
regard, we have carefully considered the evidence given by the
prosecution, especially the evidence of PW-13. She, being the
sole witness to prove the actus reus, her evidence should
receive some careful consideration and we do not find any
reason for her to depose falsely against the appellant-accused.
There is, thus, every possibility that Ms. Ruchika could have
been embraced by the appellant in the manner as described by
PW-13.
21) The High Court, on proper re-appreciation of the entire
evidence, came to the right conclusion that the prosecution
was successful in proving the case beyond reasonable doubt
and the offence punishable under Section 354 of the IPC was
made out. There is devastating increase in cases relating to
crime against women in the world and our country is also no

exception to it. Although the statutory provisions provide strict
penal action against such offenders, it is for the courts to
ultimately decide whether such incident has occurred or not.
The courts should be more cautious in appreciating the
evidence and the accused should not be left scot-free merely
on flimsy grounds. By the consistent evidence of Ms.
Aradhana (PW-13), the prosecution has proved beyond
reasonable doubt the offence committed by the appellant
under Section 354 of the IPC. A charge under Section 354 of
the IPC is one which is very easy to make and is very difficult
to rebut. It is not that on account of alleged enmity between
the appellant and Shri Duggal and Shri Ojha, he was falsely
implicated. It would, however, be unusual in a conservative
society that a woman would be used as a pawn to wreak
vengeance. When a plea is taken by the appellant-accused
that he has been falsely implicated, courts have a duty to
make deeper scrutiny of the evidence and decide the
acceptability or otherwise of the accusations made against
him. In the instant case, both the trial court and the High
Court have done that. There is no scope for taking a different

view from the view already been taken by the courts below.
The occurrence of the overt act is well proved by the
unimpeachable testimony of the eye-witness – Ms. Aradhana
(PW-13).
22) In order to constitute the offence under Section 354 of
the IPC, mere knowledge that the modesty of a woman is likely
to be outraged is sufficient without any deliberate intention of
having such outrage alone for its object. There is no abstract
conception of modesty that can apply to all cases. A careful
approach has to be adopted by the court while dealing with a
case alleging outrage of modesty. The essential ingredients of
the offence under Section 354 IPC are as under:
(i) that the person assaulted must be a woman;
(ii) that the accused must have used criminal force on
 her; and
(iii) that the criminal force must have been used on the
 woman intending thereby to outrage her modesty.
23) This Court, in Vidyadharan vs. State of Kerala (2004)
1 SCC 215, held as under

“10. Intention is not the sole criterion of the offence
punishable under Section 354 IPC, and it can be committed
by a person assaulting or using criminal force to any woman,
if he knows that by such act the modesty of the woman is
likely to be affected. Knowledge and intention are essentially
things of the mind and cannot be demonstrated like physical
objects. The existence of intention or knowledge has to be
culled out from various circumstances in which and upon
whom the alleged offence is alleged to have been committed.
A victim of molestation and indignation is in the same
position as an injured witness and her testimony should
receive the same weight …..”
24) It is undoubtedly correct that if intention or knowledge is
one of the ingredients of any offence, it has got to be proved
like other ingredients for convicting a person. But, it is also
equally true that those ingredients being state of mind may
not be proved by direct evidence and may have to be inferred
from the attending circumstances of a given case. The
sequence of events which we have detailed earlier indicates
that the appellant-accused had the requisite culpable
intention.
25) This Court, in Tarkeshwar Sahu vs. State of Bihar,
(2006) 8 SCC 560, held as under:-
“39. So far as the offence under Section 354 IPC is concerned,
intention to outrage the modesty of a woman or knowledge that
the act of the accused would result in outraging her modesty is
the gravamen of the offence.

40. The essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex. The culpable
intention of the accused is the crux of the matter. The reaction
of the woman is very relevant, but its absence is not always
decisive. Modesty is an attribute associated with female human
beings as a class. It is a virtue which attaches to a female owing
to her sex.”
26) With regard to the delay of about 6 days in presenting the
complaint to the SHO, this Court is of the view that the same
has been duly explained. In a tradition-bound non-permissive
society in India, it would be extremely reluctant to admit that
any incident which is likely to reflect upon chastity of a
woman had occurred, being conscious of the danger of being
ostracized by the society or being looked down by the society.
In the instant case, the victim-Ms. Ruchika not informing
about the incident to the parents under the circumstances
that the appellant-accused, who being a very senior police
officer of the State, was reasonable and it would not have been
an easy decision for her to speak out. In the normal course of
human conduct, this unmarried minor girl, would not like to
give publicity to the traumatic experience she has undergone
and felt terribly embarrassed in relation to the incident to
narrate it to her parents and others overpowered by a feeling
38Page 39
of shame and her natural inclination would be to avoid talking
about it to anyone, lest the family name and honour is
brought into controversy. After informing the incident to her
parents, the follow up action was immediately taken by the
residents and the fellow players and a Memorandum
containing allegations against the appellant-accused was
prepared and submitted before the then Secretary (Home).
Therefore, giving a due consideration to the appellant-accused,
once the victim and her family members got assurance of
justice from the superior authorities, they lodged a formal
complaint against the appellant-accused.
27) With regard to the contention of learned senior counsel
for the appellant-accused that the signature of Ms. Ruchika on
the Memorandum was forged though she signed the same in
front of Shri Anand Prakash, Shri S.C. Girhotra, Ms.
Aradhana and Mrs. Madhu Prakash and they have admitted
the same, we are of the opinion that expert evidence as to
handwriting is only opinion evidence and it can never be
conclusive. Acting on the evidence of any expert, it is usually
to see if that evidence is corroborated either by clear, direct or

circumstantial evidence. The sole evidence of a handwriting
expert is not normally sufficient for recording a definite finding
about the writing being of a certain person or not. A court is
competent to compare the disputed writing of a person with
others which are admitted or proved to be his writings. It may
not be safe for a court to record a finding about a person’s
writing in a certain document merely on the basis of expert
comparison, but a court can itself compare the writings in
order to appreciate properly the other evidence produced
before it in that regard. The opinion of a handwriting expert is
also relevant in view of Section 45 of the Evidence Act, but
that too is not conclusive. It has also been held by this Court
in a catena of cases that the sole evidence of a handwriting
expert is not normally sufficient for recording a definite finding
about the writing being of a certain person or not. It follows
that it is not essential that the handwriting expert must be
examined in a case to prove or disprove the disputed writing.
It is opinion evidence and it can rarely, if ever, take the place
of substantive evidence. Before acting on such evidence, it is

usual to see if it is corroborated either by clear, direct evidence
or by circumstantial evidence.
28) In Mobarik Ali Ahmed vs. The State of Bombay AIR
1957 SC 857, this Court has held as under:-
“11…..Learned counsel objected to this approach on a
question of proof. We are, however, unable to see any
objection. The proof of the genuineness of a document is
proof of the authorship of the document and is proof of a fact
like that of any other fact. The evidence relating thereto may
be direct or circumstantial. It may consist of direct evidence
of a person who saw the document being written or the
signature being affixed. It may be proof of the handwriting of
the contents, or of the signature, by one of the modes
provided in Sections 45 and 47 of the Indian Evidence Act. It
may also be proved by internal evidence afforded by the
contents of the document. This last mode of proof by the
contents may be of considerable value where the disputed
document purports to be a link in a chain of
correspondence, some links in which are proved to the
satisfaction of the court. In such a situation the person who
is the recipient of the document, be it either a letter or a
telegram, would be in a reasonably good position both with
reference to his prior knowledge of the writing or the
signature of the alleged sender limited though it may be, as
also his knowledge of the subject matter of the chain of
correspondence, to speak to its authorship. In an
appropriate case the court may also be in a position to judge
whether the document constitutes a genuine link in the
chain of correspondence and thus to determine its
authorship. We are unable, therefore, to say that the
approach adopted by the courts below in arriving at the
conclusion that the letters are genuine is open to any serious
legal objection. The question, if any, can only be as to the
adequacy of the material on which the conclusion as to the
genuineness of the letters is arrived at. That however is a
matter which we cannot permit to be canvassed before us.

29) In Smt. Bhagwan Kaur vs. Shri Maharaj Krishan
Sharma And Others (1973) 4 SCC 46, this Court held as
under:-
“26…..It is no doubt true that the prosecution led evidence of
handwriting expert to show the similarity of handwriting
between (PW 1/A) and other admitted writings of the
deceased, but in this respect, we are of the opinion that in
view of the main essential features of the case, not much
value can be attached to the expert evidence. The evidence of
a handwriting expert, unlike that of a fingerprint expert, is
generally of a frail character and its fallibilities have been
quite often noticed The courts should, therefore, be wary to
give too much weight to the evidence of handwriting expert.
In Sri Sri Sri Kishore Chandra Singh Deo v. Babu Ganesh
Prasad Bhagat this Court observed that conclusions based
upon mere comparison of handwriting must at best be
indecisive and yield to the positive evidence in the case.”
30) It is thus clear that uncorroborated evidence of a hand
writing expert is an extremely weak type of evidence and the
same should not be relied upon either for the conviction or for
acquittal. The courts, should, therefore, be wary to give too
much weight to the evidence of handwriting expert. It can
rarely, if ever, take the place of substantive evidence. Before
acting on such evidence, it is usual to see if it is corroborated
either by clear, direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence.

31) It is the claim of learned senior counsel for the
appellant-accused that the present case is fabricated and a
result of the rivalry between HLTA and HTA. Further, Shri
Anand Prakash has derived professional benefit from this
exercise besides venting his longstanding grudge against the
appellant-accused. It does not stand to logic that having
regard to the Indian social set up, any father would let his
daughter’s honour and reputation be damaged merely because
one of his associate has his own agenda against the
appellant-accused. However, each case has to be determined
on the touchstone of the factual matrix thereof. In the instant
case, there is nothing on record on the basis of which it can be
said that the tender age of the victim was exploited for the
benefit of Shri Anand Prakash (PW-1)
32) With regard to the contention of learned senior counsel
that non-examination of two important site witnesses viz., Shri
Paltoo-the ball picker and Shri T.Thomas-the Coach draws
adverse inference against the prosecution, the High Court has
rightly held that adverse inference against the prosecution can
be drawn only if it withholds certain evidence and not merely

on account of its failure to obtain certain evidence. We are
also of the opinion that they were not in any way connected
with the actual commission of offence and even in their
absence, the commission of the offence of molestation by the
appellant-accused stands well proved by the unimpeachable
testimony of the eye witness (PW-13) to the incident.
33) No particular number of witnesses is required for proving
a certain fact. It is the quality and not the quantity of the
witnesses that matters. Evidence is weighed and not counted.
Evidence of even a single eye witness, truthful, consistent and
inspiring confidence is sufficient for maintaining conviction. It
is not necessary that all those persons who were present at
the spot must be examined by the prosecution in order to
prove the guilt of the accused. Having examined all the
witnesses, even if other persons present nearby not examined,
the evidence of eye-witness cannot be discarded.
34) In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of the opinion
that Ms. Aradhana (PW-13) withstood her testimony from
beginning till the end and her deposition was found reliable
and corroborative with other prosecution witnesses and both

the courts below were right in upholding the conviction of the
appellant-accused under Section 354 of the IPC.
35) With regard to sentence of the appellant-accused, learned
senior counsel on his behalf has pointed out certain mitigating
factors which are - old age of the appellant-accused, health
ailments, responsibility of looking after the unmarried
daughter suffering from congenital heart disease, past
meritorious service and prolonged trial. Keeping in view the
aforementioned factors especially the old age and physical
condition of the appellant-accused, we do not think it
expedient to put him back in jail. While we uphold the findings
as to the guilt of the appellant-accused, we are of the opinion
that the cause of justice would be best sub-served when the
sentence of the appellant-accused would be altered to the
period already undergone. We, therefore, reduce the sentence
of the appellant to the period already undergone by him as a
special case considering his very advanced age.
36) In view of the foregoing discussion, we confirm the
conviction of the appellant-accused under Section 354 of the

IPC while modifying the sentence to the period already
undergone. The appeal is disposed of with the above terms.
...…………….…………………………J.
 (V. GOPALA GOWDA)
 .….....…………………………………J.
 (R.K. AGRAWAL)
NEW DELHI;
SEPTEMBER 23, 2016.


Print Page

No comments:

Post a Comment