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Civic Chandran case: Controversial remark expunged, bail upheld

- October 13, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, October 13 (BPNS)

The Kerala High Court on Thursday expunged a controversial observation made by a sessions court judge while granting anticipatory bail to an accused in a sexual harassment case. The remark ‘sexually provocative dress’ was made by former Kozhikode Principal District and Sessions Judge S Krishnakumar while granting anticipatory bail to social activist Civic Chandran in a sexual harassment case. 

It was Justice Kauser Edappagath who chose to remove the said remark from the bail order while observing that the dressing of a victim cannot be construed as a legal ground to absolve an accused from the charge of outraging the modesty of a woman. However, the court upheld the bail order of Chandran.

“The right to wear any dress is a natural extension of personal freedom guaranteed by the Constitution and a facet of the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. Even if a woman wears a provocative dress that cannot give a license to a man to outrage her modesty. Hence, the said finding of the Court below in the impugned order is hereby set aside,” reads an excerpt from the judgment of Kauser.

The court’s order had come in the two pleas, submitted by the state and by the victim, against the bail granted to Chandran. The two pleas were eventually disposed of.

Earlier, in August, the high court had stayed the sessions court verdict by saying that the observation of the sessions court cannot be justified, and ‘there was an improper exercise of jurisdiction by the sessions judge while granting bail to the accused.’

As the remark invited widespread criticism, Krishna Kumar was transferred and posted as presiding officer, Labour Court, Kollam.

Chandran is facing charges of making sexual advances towards a young female writer in a camp convened at Nandi beach. He is charged under sections 354A(2), 341, and 354 of IPC in a case registered by Koyilandi police.