SEC 354 OF IPC SAYS: Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.—
Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
So this section tells us that if anybody will outrage a woman’s modesty will be under punishment.
Punishment will be of 1 to 5 years or with fine or both.
So firstly we should be aware about the terms used in the section.
So what is assault ?
Sec 351 of IPC define assault as:
Whoever makes any gesture, or any preparation intending or knowing it to be likely that such gesture or preparation will cause any person present to apprehend that he who makes that gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault. Explanation.—Mere words do not amount to an assault. But the words which a person uses may give to his gestures or preparation such a meaning as may make those gestures or preparations amount to an assault.
If someone makes gesture that he/she will likely to kill you so at that moment only he/she has committed the offence of assault.
for example: A shakes his fist at Z, intending or knowing it to be likely that he may thereby cause Z to believe that A is about to strike Z, A has committed an
what is criminal force?
sec 350 of IPC define criminal force as:
Whoever intentionally uses force to any person, without that person’s consent, in order to the committing of any offence, or intending by the use of such force to cause, or knowing it to be likely that by the use of such force he will cause injury, fear or annoyance to the person to whom the force is used, is said to use criminal force to that other.
So in sec 354 presence/absence of consent of the woman is the deciding factor.so if there is no injury/fear or annoyance caused to that woman and the act is with the consent of that woman then the act will not be consider as criminal force.
For example: if a person does an act of hugging his friend/wife or girlfriend then obviously the act will be not of criminal force and in this case there is no outrage of the modesty of that woman but if the same act is done with the stranger then it will be of criminal force.so presence/absence of the consent is really very important.
Now who is woman?
sec 10 defines:
“Man”, “Woman”.—The word “man” denotes a male human being of any age; the word “woman” denotes a female human being of any age.
Here “ANY AGE” IS IMPORTANT as it created some contradictions. so let’s first understand what is MODESTY.
MODESTY OF WOMAN IS A VIRTUE ATTACHED TO A WOMAN OWING TO HER SEX.- said supreme court in case of [Tarkeshwar Sahu v. state of Bihar, (now Jharkhand) 2006]
Here the question arises that does a girl who has not gained puberty and not developed a sex instinct has a concept of modesty?
- In STATE OF PUNJAB V. MAJOR SINGH (AIR 1967 SC 63) the accuse went into a room, switched off the lights, stripped himself naked and performed indecent act of unnatural lust by “fingering the vagina” of 7.5 months old girl.
- It was argued on his behalf that this would not attract sec 354 because a child of 7.5 months is not capable of developing a sex instinct so she does not have concept of modesty which could be outraged.
- Trial court and high court accepted this contention but supreme court said that yes, the modesty is based on her sex but the modesty is with every woman from her birth. Sometimes the reaction of the woman on the act is very important to constitute an offence but absence of such a reaction does not mean that section 354 would not apply.
- 354 will apply in this case as it will apply to an ADULT sleeping woman who was not aware of outraging of her modesty.
- so it is not necessary that if a woman will hit puberty only then the concept of modesty will be considered.