Bombay HC: Holding Girl’s Hand To Express Love Without Sexual Intent Is Not Sexual Harassment

Bombay HC: Holding Girl's Hand To Express Love Without Sexual Intent Is Not Sexual Harassment

The Bombay High Court recently granted anticipatory bail to a rickshaw driver who had held the hand of a minor girl and expressed his “liking” for her.

The bench led by single-judge Justice Bharati Dangre stated that the accused Dhanraj Rathod had no sexual intent to violate the minor girl’s modesty or to sexually harass her and thus, no case was prima facie made out.

The bench stated in the order passed on February 10, “Since the prosecution does not allege that the applicant held her hand with any sexual intent, it is clear from the accusations made that there is no prima facie case of any sexual harassment. Considering that the victim girl’s comment does not suggest any sexual purpose, let’s assume for a moment that he has stated his liking for her. In the first place, he merits protection from arrest because his custody is not required.”

The case started when the victim’s father filed an FIR on November 1, 2022, alleging that the accused, Dhanraj Babusingh Rathod, tried to sexually harass his daughter, age 17, and even offended her modesty by holding her hand.

According to the father, the applicant was known to the victim and her family as he lived in their neighbourhood. Dhanraj used to drive an auto rickshaw, and the victim occasionally rode in it to get to her school and tuition Centre.

However, she stopped using his autorickshaw as a result of which the applicant stopped her on the day of the incident and tried to convince her to travel in his rickshaw, but she refused. Dhanraj then held the victim’s hands, told her he loved her, and insisted that she sits in his auto so he could drop her home.

However, the girl fled the scene and told her father what happened, leading to the filing of a FIR against Dhanraj.

After going through the facts, Justice Dangre decided to protect the applicant and granted him anticipatory bail. 

But the bench clarified, “However, at the same time, he shall be warned that he shall not participate in similar incident and, if he does, the protection conferred upon him shall stand withdrawn.”

On the basis of these observations, the judge granted him relief.

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About the Author: Isha Das