This Article is written by Shruthi Reddy L (a 2nd- year student from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Legislative Law (BBA LLB).)
Table of Contents
The Case Summary is on Rupan Deol Bajaj vs. K.P.S. Gill and Anr. Though it sounds very unrefined, the case is also known as the Butt-slapping case. In the present case, the plaintiff was Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj and the defendant is Kanwar Pal Singh Gill. This case is considered one of the most criticised high-profile cases. Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj was working in the Punjab Cadre as the officer of the Indian Administrative Services while the incident took place. She was working as the Special Secretary. The defendant Kanwar Singh Pal Gill was the Director-General of Police of Punjab. The incident took place on 18th July 1988. The offences under which the respondent Kanwar Pal Singh Gill was held liable were under section 341, section 342, section 352, section 354 and section 509 of the Indian Penal Code. After filing of Special Leave Petition, the punishment was reduced to probation by the latest judgment which was given in the year 2005. The fact that the punishment was reduced to probation that is the release based on improved behaviour, it can be said that the judicial procedure, in this case, was forgiving in nature which was towards the superior people of the society.
Name of the case – Rupan Deol Bajaj vs. K.P.S. Gill and Anr
Appellant – Rupan Deol Bajaj; Respondent – K.P.S. Gill
The facts of the case are explained as follows –
The incident took place in 1988, on July 18th. On the night of July 18th, the defendant – K.P.S. Gill was walking across a garden and sat in the ladies circle where the plaintiff Rupan Deol Bajaj along with her husband B.R. Bajaj were present at the party and the time was around 10 P.M. The plaintiff was then having a conversation with other ladies at the party during which K.P.S Gill requested her to sit near him as he had something to talk with her. Furthering the request, Mrs Bajaj took a chair and sat next to him after which the defendant pulled her chair closer to his. Startled by his gesture, she pulled her chair back to its original place following which again K.P.S.Gill pulled the chair closer. As the plaintiff sensed something wrong, she left the place and sat with the other ladies. After the duration of around 10 minutes, Mr Gill stood in front of the plaintiff where the distance was just 4” from the plaintiff’s knee. After he came close to her, he by an action of the crook of his finger, asked her to come along with him immediately. When the plaintiff disagreed with such kind of behaviour, the defendant repeated his previous behaviour shocking the ladies present there and when the plaintiff was above to get up, he blocked her way. When the plaintiff had no other choice, she drew the chair back by tuning backwards, when the defendant slapped the plaintiff on her posterior in the presence of everyone.
Following the incident, an FIR was filed and an investigation commenced. The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh was directed by the court to take cognisance of the matter and the defendant was held liable under section 354 – Outraging the Modesty of Women and section 509 – sexual harassment under the Indian Penal Code.
Under sections 341, 342, 352, 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal code, a complaint was registered and the main issue of contention was whether the defendant – K.P.S. Gill could be held liable under the mentioned offences. Whether the accused had the intention that is the Mens Rea behind outraging the modesty of the plaintiff and if slapping on the posterior of women is trivial as an offence or not were other issues in the present case.
Section 354 and section 509 of the Indian Penal Code was taken into apprehension.
Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code explains about Outraging the Modesty of Women. It states that, 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 shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine. According to this, intention or the mental element is not the only element essential as if a person knows that by his acts, the modesty of a woman can be affected can be held liable.
Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code states that 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 punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both. Under this section, there must be intention present and causation of insult.
While giving judgment for the present case, the court looked into section 354 and section 509 of the Indian Penal Code which is related to outraging the modesty of women. The judgment given in State of Punjab v Major Singh was also considered which said that according to the common notions of mankind, the act done or in the presence of a woman, is suggestive of sex and according to the assimilated judge, sex is the essence of women’s modesty. When this test was applied in the present case, the court held that the act of the accused amounted to outraging the modesty of women. The main question was whether the accused prima facie knew that his act would amount to outraging the modesty of women or not. The act was done by the accused and the acts prior to that clearly indicate his intention and thus he can be held liable. Hence, the appeal was allowed as there was an outrage of modesty of women but the FIR was quashed along with the complaint by the high court.
No matter how small or big a crime is, justice needs to be served. Nobody is above the law nor is anyone below it. This means that while trying any case or while deciding upon for a judgment a person’s caste, creed, religion does not matter as at the end of the day all the human beings are equal – let it be from the plaintiff’s side or the defendant’s side. In the present case, the FIR and the complaint by the High Court were quashed and only since the modesty of women was outraged – the sections with regards to it were considered while giving the judgment. In the end, the punishment was reduced to probation. All this clearly indicates the fact that a position of the person or a person belonging to an elite section of society does not deserve to get away with the law.
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 354, No.45, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India)
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 509, No.45, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India)
 State of Punjab v Major Singh (2015) 5 SCC 201