On May 17, the Supreme Court of India granted interim anticipatory bail to Indian Youth Congress (IYC) President Srinivas BV in a case concerning sexual harassment complaint filed by former Assam Youth Congress (AYC) President Angkita Dutta.
The Supreme Court granted interim anticipatory bail to the accused noting Angkita Dutta’s delay in filing the complaint. “Prima facie, taking into consideration the delay of almost two months in lodging the FIR, will entitle the petitioner to interim protection. We direct that in the event of arrest the petitioner shall be released on anticipatory bail on furnishing solvent sureties to the sum of Rs 50,000,” the court said.
The Supreme Court has also directed Srinivas BV to appear before the investigating officer on May 22 and on subsequent dates as the investigating officer may direct. The court has asked him to cooperate with the investigation and the inquiry being carried out by the National Commission for Women (NCW) while listing the matter for hearing in July 2023.
The Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju urged the Supreme Court not to make any observations on the merits of the case and requested that the interim protection be granted without assigning reasons. However, the court refused to remove its observations but clarified that the same are made only for the purpose of granting interim relief.
Gauhati High Court Refused to Quash FIR Against Srinivas BV
On May 4, the Gauhati High Court refused to quash the FIR against Srinivas BV in a case concerning the harassment complaint filed by Angkita Dutta, citing “to prevent abuse of the process of law and to secure the ends of justice.”
The Gauhati High Court observed that the victim Angkita Dutta and the accused Srinivas BV belonged the same national political party and that the allegations concern harassment using sexist comments and threatening the victim “not to report his misdemeanour of ill treatment, misbehaviour and sexist remarks passed against her to the high office bearers of their party.”
The Gauhati High Court noted that the FIR discloses that the accused allegedly “heckled the victim holding her arm, pushing and pulling and threatened her using slang words saying that he would ruin her career in the party if she went to complaint against him before the high office bearers of the party.” Furthermore, The Gauhati High Court observed that the accused’s comments, as alleged in the FIR, “constitute the offences which apparently satisfy the ingredients of the penal provisions of Sections 352/354/ 354A (iv) of the IPC.”
The Gauhati High Court also noted that Angkita Dutta was “threatened not to go outside the border of Assam to attend any meeting of the party, which prima facie satisfy the ingredients of the offence of criminal restraint punishable under Section 341 of the IPC.”
The Gauhati High Court noted, “The victim informant has alleged in the FIR that all those remarks and threatening aimed at her using slang words, using criminal force by heckling her, holding her by her arm including the aforesaid words uttered by the petitioner are out and out derogatory, sexist, chauvinistic, demeaning, outrageous to her modesty as a woman.”
The accused’s counsel contented that it is apparent that the “allegations made therein are not only vague, fabricated and an afterthought, but are result of political vendetta.” Furthermore, the accused’s counsel also argued that “the allegations have been made to settle personal scores and ego satisfaction of the informant/alleged victim woman.” The accused’s counsel also submitted, “that the FIR in question being apparently politically driven, the criminal justice system cannot be used to settle political and personal rivalry.”
However, The Gauhati High Court disagreed with the contentions and noted, “There is also no indication on the case diary that the FIR is politically motivated and based on some false and concocted story. The nature of offences disclosed in the FIR are crime against the society being basically pertaining to outraging of the modesty of woman.”
Furthermore, The Gauhati High Court disagreed with the accused’s counsel’s arguments claiming there is an inordinate delay in filing an FIR. The accused’s counsel argued that the FIR was lodged after much delay which has not been explained by the victim woman.
The Gauhati High Court observed that the FIR discloses that Angkita Dutta complained against accused Srinivas BV’s unbecoming behaviour towards her to the high office bearers of Congress, however, despite waiting it yielded no response.
Furthermore, The Gauhati High Court observed that she had to face a legal notice raising counter-allegations of defamation for “abusing and tarnishing the image of the petitioner publicly on some wrong facts and with malicious intent.”