CASE LAW BRIEF
Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH)
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Case Law Brief Indirectly made sexually coloured remarks also come under the purview of the Act
Case Brief Title
Jishu Sengupta and others vs. The State of West Bengal
Sexually coloured remarks, metaphor, mannequin
Acts and Sections Referred to
Sec. 354A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sec. 2(n) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013
Calcutta High Court
Sarjit Mukherjee Rudranil Ghosh Parambrata Chattopadhyay Jishu Sengupta
Complainant(s) Rituparna Chowdhury
The State of West Bengal
Honourable Judge Mr R. K. Bag
Case Brief: Rituparna Chowdhury works for gain at Eros International in Mumbai in the capacity of creative producer. Srijit Mukherjee was the host of a talk show by name the ‘Shonge Srijit’ in the television channel Colour Bangla and he belongs to the group of common friends of the complainant. Rudranil Ghosh and Parambrata Chattopadhyay were invited as guests to the talk show in December 2015. Petitioners 2 and 3 were also friends with the complainant for over a decade. Jishu Sengupta was the producer and director of the talk show and was responsible for its day-to-day affairs. The complainant, in her complaint before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate stated that the petitioner 1, conversing with Petitioners 2 and 3, cast aspersion on the character and reputation of the complainant, by referring to a mannequin as Rituparna Chowdhury, petitioners 2 and 3 stated that they were in love with her for which she would be immortalised in history. Both Rudranil and Parambrata used metaphors and euphemisms like how they ‘enjoyed playing cricket in the playground of ‘Eden Garden’ though the playground ‘Eden Garden’ did not allow them to play cricket at a time, while one played in the morning, another played in the evening’. The complainant argued that the above comments were full of sexual innuendos and fell within the ambit of sexually coloured remarks under Section 354A of IPC. It was also argued that this intentional use of derogatory remarks had led to the fall of the reputation of the complainant, especially in the eyes of her friends and common people, as the complainant too belonged to the same profession as petitioners. The complainant had filed the complaint with the Chief Judicial Magistrate after a period of two (02) months
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from the date of the incident. The petitioners argued that the criminal proceedings should be quashed due to such delay. Judgment: The Calcutta High Court was of the view that the legislature has categorically enumerated the acts constituting the offence of sexual harassment in Section 354A of IPC, though the legislature has left it to the discretion of the court to decide whether the particular remarks directed to the victim will be construed as sexually coloured remarks. Hence, it is said that in this case there was no scope to make two possible and reasonable constructions of any penal provision and the only thing that needs to be decided is whether the remarks made by the petitioners can be construed as “sexually coloured remarks” for the purpose of bringing it within Section 354A (1) (iv) and in this regard the court examined the conversation made by the Petitioners in the television programme from the eyes of the victim i.e. complainant. The High Court was of the view that even though the complaint was filed after 02 (two) months of the date of the incident and that this delay had not been explained by the complainant, there is still scope for the complainant to do so during the trial of the case unless the complaint is barred by limitation. Since the complaint is not barred by limitation, the delay in filing the complaint cannot be a ground to quash the criminal proceeding. According to the definition of sexual harassment with reference to the Act, it was proved that the metaphor used is towards the sexual harassment and charges were put on the same as they were against the reputation and image of the complainant. All the applications made are thus dismissed.
The metaphor used to describe anybody in terms of speaking is also considered as a sexual harassment.
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