SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court ruled that a husband slapping his wife in public does not constitute the offence of outraging the woman’s modesty under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) but can attract charges under Section 323 of the IPC for causing hurt.

A single-judge bench, comprising Justice Rajnesh Oswal, passed this judgment after a husband challenged the issuance of process against him for slapping his wife during a public hearing in their ongoing matrimonial dispute. The High Court quashed the Section 354 charge while upholding the Section 323 charge.

The petitioner (husband) had filed a suit for restitution of conjugal rights against his wife, who in turn filed a suit for the cancellation of their marriage agreement. Amid these litigations, the wife lodged a complaint leading to an investigation under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr. P. C.).

Based on the police report, the trial court issued an order against the petitioner for alleged offences under Sections 323 (causing hurt) and 354 (outraging a woman’s modesty) of the IPC.

The petitioner contested the trial court’s decision, arguing that the allegations in the complaint did not justify the issuance of process under Section 354 of the IPC, which pertains to the offence of outraging a woman’s modesty.

He highlighted that the trial court did not take any witness statements from the complainant’s side at the time of the complaint’s presentation, contrary to what was claimed in the court’s order dated 19.03.2022. This inconsistency was a significant part of his challenge against the proceedings.

The counsel representing the husband argued that the allegations in the complaint did not substantiate a charge under Section 354 of the IPC against the petitioner.

Additionally, he pointed out that the magistrate did not record any witness statement before passing the order on 30.03.2022, which directed an investigation under Section 202 of Cr. P. C.

S A Khan, counsel for the wife (respondent), also acknowledged that while the allegations do not constitute an offence under Section 354 IPC, they do establish a case for Section 323 IPC. He agreed that the order dated 30.03.2022, issuing process for the commission of an offence under Section 323 IPC, was correct and justified based on the complaint’s averments.

Justice Oswal observed that the incident reported involves the petitioner allegedly assaulting the respondent in public, resulting in injuries. After reviewing the complaint and based on the investigation report from SHO, Police Station Pulwama, the court found sufficient grounds to initiate proceedings under Sections 323 and 354 IPC.

However, it was acknowledged that while the complaint substantiates a charge under Section 323 IPC for causing hurt, it does not establish the criteria for a charge under Section 354 IPC, which involves outraging a woman’s modesty.

The Court concluded that the act, while constituting assault, did not meet the specific intent or nature required for “outraging modesty” under Section 354, but is sufficient for invoking a charge under Section 323 IPC. Consequently, the order for the issuance of process under Section 354 IPC was quashed, while the process under Section 323 IPC was upheld.

The court, in furtherance, directed the trial court to proceed with the proceedings by the law.


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