Mumbai man gets 3-year term for sexual harassment

Swift action by police leads to conviction within a month of crime

In an instance of efficient and swift prosecution, a magistrate court in Mumbai convicted a man less than a month after he flashed his genitals in front of a woman in a city park, sentencing him to three years in prison for outraging the victim’s modesty and sexual harassment.

In her order, metropolitan magistrate Yashshree Marulkar said, “Sexual offences are not only a crime against the woman, it is a crime against the entire society.”

In the incident on September 18, 2021, the woman was sitting in a city park when she noticed the accused, Rajkumar Tandel, 56, moving around her as though stalking her. She then got up and moved to a bench in another part of the park. But Tandel started walking towards her and when nobody was noticing he unzipped his trousers and exposed his genitals. The woman got frightened and started running towards the exit gate while Tandel followed her.

The woman then requested two passers-by to catch and restrain Tandel and called the park security. She also called the police on the emergency 100 number and Tandel was taken to the police station. A police officer in-charge of Prevention of Sexual Harassment of the Women Cell then took over the case.

In the order, Ms. Marulkar said, “In my opinion, explicit testimony of the victim, is utterly trustworthy even in the absence of any corroborative evidence. However, fortunately in the case in hand there are two witnesses.”

The court praised the police and said, “Quick response of the police machinery in lodging of report and registration of the crime soon after the offence shows sensitization regarding the heinous crime against women which ruins physical as well as mental health and inner soul of the victim.”

The court went on to say, “Sexual violence apart from being a dehumanising act is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a female. It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity. It leaves behind a traumatic experience. The accused not only causes physical injuries but more indelibly leaves a scar on the most cherished possession of a woman ie. her dignity, honour, reputation and not the least her chastity.”

“No ointment would be able to provide relief to the victim, as there is no medicine for mental distress,” the court said.

The court recorded, “The act of the accused was deliberate. The accused loitered and flashed the victim in order to cause psychological harm to her and for degrading soul. On proof of such offence, the court is bound to show a great responsibility and utmost sensitivity while imposing the sentence on the accused.”

Tandel was convicted for three years under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment), 354D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code.

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