The Bombay High Court on Monday ordered a man who had been charged with insulting the modesty of a woman in his neighborhood to plant ten trees if the FIR filed against him was to be quashed. The HC has also requested that the woman complainant do the same.

According to Section- 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, ” Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

A bench of Justices Prasanna Varale and Anil Kilor was hearing a petition filed by one Sanjay Gangurde, who was seeking a directive to the Vikhroli police station to quash a FIR lodged against him in December 2018 on charges of insulting the modesty of a woman living in his housing society. However, in an affidavit filed in November 2021, the complainant and Gangurde claimed that “sense prevailed” over them and that their dispute had been settled amicably.

“We are members of the same society, and we have friendly relations. However, after filing the FIR, better judgement prevailed over us,”  the parties stated in an affidavit.

Even the complainant woman told the judges that the FIR was filed due to a “misunderstanding,” and she had no objection to the FIR being quashed. Taking note of these arguments, the judges concluded that “continuing the case would be nothing more than a futile exercise.”

“We believe that keeping the FIR alive would serve no purpose other than to burden the criminal courts, which are already overburdened. We are of the considered opinion that there is no impediment to quashing the contested FIR,” the judges stated.

While quashing the FIR, the bench posed a specific question to the parties involved. “Whether the parties would be able to show any goodwill gesture towards society in the context of seeking abashment of the FIR on amicable settlement, they have submitted that they are ready to abide by any conditions imposed upon them by this court,” the judges noted. As a result, the judges ordered Gangurde and the complainant to plant ten trees each in their society’s grounds.

“The FIR is quashed subject to the parties planting 10 trees each in the premises of their residential society within a period of six weeks,” the judges said, adding, “Upon planting the trees, the parties shall obtain a certificate from the secretary of the society to that effect and place the same on record of this petition within eight weeks from today.”

“Failing to do so, the order quashing FIR shall stand recalled automatically,” the bench ruled.

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