New Delhi, Feb 24: An accused can be convicted for
outraging the modesty of a woman on the basis of mere
knowledge of an accused that his action would outrage the
modesty of a woman, the Supreme Court has held.
Section 354 IPC provides a maximum of two-year sentence
for an accused convicted for outraging the modesty of a woman.
"In order to constitute the offence under Section 354 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
bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Asok Kumar Ganguly
The bench passed the observation while altering the
conviction and sentence of Shekara who was convicted and
sentenced to five years by a sessions court for raping a girl,
and the punishment was upheld by the Karnataka High Court.
However, the apex court altered the conviction from
rape to outraging modesty and reduced the sentence to five
The apex court said a careful approach has to be
adopted by the court while dealing with a case involving
outraging of modesty.
"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 an 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," the apex court