February 8, 2023

Every person has right to privacy, even to a woman of easy virtue

Facts of the case

  • A police inspector madhukar Narayan Mardikar, on 13th November, 1965, between 8.15 and 8.45 p.m. allegedly visited the hutment of one Banubi w/o Babu Sheikh in uniform and demanded to have sexual intercourse with her. On her refusing he tried to have her by force. She resisted his attempt and raised a hue and cry.
  • Her husband and neighbours collected outside the hutment. The hutment was about a furlong away from the Police Station and about 100 yards from Kuwari’s Bungalow. After people from the vicinity collected at the place of occurrence the respondent rushed to Kuwari’s Bungalow and telephoned the Police Station to rush police aid.
  • PSI Ghosalkar who received the phone call rushed to the place of occurrence in a police jeep accompanied by PSI Wadekar and other policemen. On reaching the scene of occurrence they found the respondent (Madhukar Naryanan) in uniform standing at some distance from the hutment of Banubi. They also saw an agitated Banubi near her hutment.
  • The respondent directed that the woman be taken to the Police Station as she had abused him. She was taken on foot to the Police Station by Head Constable Kulkarni and Police Constable Desale. The respondent and others returned to the Police Station in the jeep.

The respondent’s Version

As stated earlier the case against the respondent was that he had visited the hutment of Banubi on the night of 13th November, 1965 all alone in police uniform and had tried to ravish her.

The respondent’s version was that he had raided her hutment on receipt of information that she was dealing in illicit liquor and although nothing incriminating was found from her house, some articles like a rubber tube, a bottle, etc., containing country liquor were found from a nearby place which were attached as unclaimed property.

It was also brought out that Banubi was a woman of easy virtue and was having extra marital relationship with one Behram Irani, the Manager of Bhiwandi Talkies. She admitted that she was the mistress of that person. Evidence was also led to show that she was known as an award (vagrant) in the locality. The find of liquor from near her hutment had upset her and in order to escape from the clutches of law she had filed a false complaint against him on 15th November, 1965. The respondent further contended that a woman with such antecedents could stoop to any level and it would be hazardous to rely on her version.

On respondent’s version, the Inquiry Officer was of the view that there was no reason or motive for Banubi to falsely involve the respondent. Since Banubi was a woman of questionable repute she would be slow to falsely implicate a Police Officer and thereby incur the wrath of the entire police force of the Bhiwandi Town Police Station within whose jurisdiction she resided.

If nothing incriminating was found from her hutment during the raid, there was no reason for her to abuse the respondent and create a scene attracting a crowd. It, therefore, did not appeal to reason to hold that Banubi had falsely implicated the respondent.

The Decision

The Supreme Court decided that, Banubi was honest enough to admit the dark side of her life. Even a woman of easy virtue is entitled to privacy and no one can invade her privacy as and when he likes. So also it is not open to any and every person to violate her person as and when he wishes. She is entitled to protect her person if there is an attempt to violate it against her wish. She is equally entitled to the protection of law. Therefore, merely because she is a woman of easy virtue, her evidence cannot be thrown overboard.

The court found that her evidence was not only corroborated in material particulars by the evidence of her husband but also by the evidence of PSI Ghosalkar and other members of the police party who had accompanied him on receipt of a phone call from the respondent, and, she was entitled to have corroborated her evidence as independent evidence.

Reference

State of Maharashtra v. Madhukar Narayan Mardikar, (1990)