HC grants bail to man who molested ex-actor

Law takes its course: Vikas Sachdev being taken to court for trial in the molestation case in Mumbai.

Law takes its course: Vikas Sachdev being taken to court for trial in the molestation case in Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Bate

‘No formula on how a woman should react in such situations’

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday admitted the appeal of a 41-year-old businessman challenging his conviction in a case of molestation of a former actor on board a domestic flight in December 2017.

Justice Prithviraj Chavan suspended his sentence and granted him bail till the appeal is heard and disposed of. Justice Chavan also directed him to submit a fresh bail bond of ₹25,000 and not leave Mumbai without the court’s permission.

A sessions court on January 15 this year had convicted the accused, Vikas Sachdev, under Section 354 (assault or criminal force on woman with an intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act as the victim was a minor at the time of the incident. He was awarded three years’ imprisonment.

‘Wrongly convicted’

On February 20, Mr. Sachdev filed an appeal before the High Court, claiming that the trial court erred in finding him guilty. Advocate Aniket Nikam, appearing for Mr. Sachdev, argued that there is no independent evidence to corroborate the testimony of the victim, particularly because of several additions and omissions.

Mr. Nikam told the court that his client had been wrongly convicted and even if his leg had touched the victim, it must have been a mistake and without any intention to harass her. The judge said, “You [Sachdev] were travelling in business class where you have a lot of space, then why keep your leg on someone else’s arm rest?” When Mr. Nikam argued that neither the complainant nor her mother complained to the flight crew members and “walked out of the flight smiling”, the court said there is no formula on how a woman should behave or react to such incidents. The judge said, “This is not mathematics. There is no straitjacket formula on how a woman should behave or react when faced with such a situation.”

Mr. Nikam then argued that there were contradictions between the statements given by the victim and other eyewitnesses. He said, “The crew members of the flight had deposed that the accused was sleeping throughout the flight.”

Justice Chavan, however, said, “There is no reason for her to lie and a woman may speak less but she understands more. It is a natural gift for a woman to understand touch. Look a man may not understand, but a woman knows man’s intention when he touches her. It is only the victim who can talk about the accused person.” The judge said the accused will never admit that he touched the victim intentionally. Justice Chavan said there will hardly be any woman who has not experienced such incidents in local train and buses.

The court said, “There is no scope of the appeal being heard and decided in the near future and since the sentence imposed on the applicant is short, the sentence stands suspended.”

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 10:03:19 AM |

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