Case Comment on the Rupan Deol Bajaj v. KPS Gill

 

 

Introduction

This case is infamously known as the ‘Butt slapping case’1. This was one of the most criticized high profile case. The last decision came in 2005 which ultimately reduced the punishment to probation. An opinion can be formed from the case about the lenient judicial procedure towards the high elites of the society. 

 

Facts of the case

  1. Mrs. Rupan Deol Bajaj was an IAS officer belonging to the Punjab cadre. She lodged an FIR against Mr. KPS Gill, the Director General of Police under section 341, 342, 352, 354 and 509 of IPC2
  2. On the said date, in a party of high ranking officials, KPS Gill, the accused, around 10pm walked across a group of ladies and joined them. After sometime, some of the ladies started leaving the party. The victim didn’t notice that the accused was misbehaving with them. 
  3. KPS Gill then called the victim to talk. On realization by victim, a weird behavior by Gill, she avoided going. 
  4. After a while, Gill reached out to her amongst the other ladies who were sitting together and ordered her in an obnoxious manner to get up and come along. She resisted and turned back and started leaving, when he slapped her back. 

 

Issues:

The only issue is whether the allegations made by the victim constitute any of the offences mentioned ?

 

  1. Rupan Deol Bajaj Vs. KPS Gill, available at https://www.lawnn.com/rupan-deol-bajaj-vs-k-p-s-gill/ (last visited on 10.11.2020)
  2. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Act 45 of 1860)

 

Judgement:

  1. In 1998 the High Court of Punjab and Haryana booked Gill under Section 354 i.e. outraging modesty of a women and under Section 309 i.e. an act, word, gesture intended to insult a lady. 
  2. He was sentenced for rigorous imprisonment for 3 months and simple imprisonment for 2 months along with fine of Rs. 200000.
  3. Appeals were made into Supreme Court of India wherein the punishment was turned into probation in 2005.

 

Comment

 

In this case it was highlighted that quashing of F.I.R. merely on the grounds of delay in its lodging is totally unjustifiable and the court while quashing a complaint must consider the reason behind in its delay. It can also interpret that court was accepting this fact that Section 95 of IPC will not be applicable in the cases where modesty of a woman is involved. 

One can imagine the gathering of highly placed government officials and Gill had the temerity to do such a thing, because he must have been sure that no woman would have the nerve to object, and certainly not to drag him to court. Her husband, BR Bajaj, also a senior IAS officer, stood by her, when the case became high-profile because of the people involved, and a majority of the people of our country felt that she was making a big fuss over a trivial issue.

Women, who go through much worse than this relatively mild instance of groping, were the first ones to turn against Bajaj for hurting the reputation of Gill. Crude jokes were made about what came to be known in the media as the “butt slapping” case, as if was just a minor misdemeanor by a teenager, rather than a terrible thing done by a man whose duties included protecting women from harassment.

This was before the issue of sexual harassment came out of the closet, so to say, and much before women could find support on social media platforms. There were journalists present at the party, but nobody reported the incident. Rupan Deol Bajaj was in a position of power herself, but it was a long and bitter battle for her dignity; she was targeting for ridicule, while Gill did not suffer any negative effects on his career or reputation. Bajaj was given two punishment postings after she filed the case, while Gill was only debarred from attending parties after 8.30 pm. Later, he was awarded a Padma Shri for his work in controlling militancy in the state.

It was as late as 2005 that the Supreme Court of India upheld the charges against Gill; though he did not have to go to jail, he had to pay a fine of Rs 200,000. Bajaj did not accept any monetary compensation, so the court directed that the money be given to a women’s organisation.

In 2010, after the Government’s decision to strip police officers convicted of ‘moral turpitude’ of medals and awards, she demanded that the Government take back the Padma Shri award given to KPS Gill. She wanted the Government to move against Gill in the same manner as it was proceeding against ex-Haryana top cop SPS Rathore, to strip him of his police medal in the aftermath of the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case. Ms Bajaj, now retired, recalls her struggle as to how the drawing room discussions were around why a woman would trouble a man for this stature for such a trivial thing.  Thus is the condition of women in India, that even bureaucrats could do such a shameful act and would call it a trivial thing . 

 

  1. 3. P.S.Rathore vs C.B.I & Anr on 23 September 2016

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