Vol. 5, Issue 4 (2019)
Outraging the modesty of a woman
Author(s): Nirali Jain
Abstract: The word ‘Modesty’ has not been defined anywhere in the code. The dictionary meaning of the word 'Modesty' is a state of being free from undue familiarities. ‘Outrage’ means an act of extreme violence and cruelty. Usually the courts go by the popular meaning. The Supreme Court has defined the term ‘Modesty’ in the Ramkripal case, wherein the accused convicted of rape, sought leniency pleading that he was, at worst guilty of outraging the woman’s modesty under section 354, IPC and not rape. The accused was made liable for rape and the court said “the essence of woman’s modesty is her sex.” Any person who assaults a woman or uses criminal force on any woman with intention to outrage her modesty is guilty of an offence under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code like the act of hugging a woman without her consent, kissing her, touching her private part or any act which is likely to put her to shame by outraging her modesty. He may also do so with the knowledge that by doing so he would be outraging the modesty of the woman and any person who utters any word or makes any sound or gesture or exhibits any object with the intention that it will be seen or heard by such woman or will intrude up on her privacy is guilty of insulting the modesty of that woman as per section 509 of the code like writing letters using vulgar language, making vulgar gestures, displaying vulgar figures, singing songs with vulgar suggestions, exhibiting her nude body. The offence under section 354 is punishable with fine or imprisonment up to 2 years or both while that under section 509 is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of 3 year. The offence under section 354 is cognizable and non-bailable in nature whereas the offence under section 509 are cognizable, bailable and compoundable with the permission of the court.