SECTION 354 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty

IPC Section-354

Description of IPC Section 354

According to section 354 of Indian penal code, Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will there by 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 fine1.

1 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

  • Classification of Section
  • Outraging the modesty of woman

Offence : Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty

Punishment : 1 to 5 years + Fine

Cognizance : Cognizable

Bail : Non-bailable

Triable : Any Magistrate

Section 354- Assault or criminal force to woman with the intent to outrage her modesty
There are two important ingredients of this section:

  1. Use of assault or criminal force against a woman.
  2. Intention of the accused to outrage the modesty of the woman or knowledge that his act is most likely to outrage the modesty of the woman.

However, what constitutes ‘outraging the modesty of a woman’ has not been defined under the Indian Penal Code. The determination of whether the offence under this section has been committed or not is made by the courts based on the circumstances of the case. The Supreme Court in one of its judgments has referred to ‘modesty’ as feminine decency and a virtue that women possess owing to their sex. It is also important to note that in cases like these the offence is not proved merely by the fact that the accused committed an act that outraged the modesty of the victim. It would be considered an offence under this section only when the accused intended or had the knowledge that his actions are most likely to outrage the victim’s modesty.

The applicability of section 354 varies from case to case as the courts are aware of the fact that such charges are easy to make and it is very difficult for a man to rebut the same. Independent witness may not be available at all times as there can be instances where a person has done such an act in private. This is why, the courts have been consistent with the observation that the same may be verified by the surrounding circumstances and the oral evidence of the victim must inspire confidence, i.e. it should be convincing and reliable.

As is with most of the false and malicious complaints, such complaints are also mostly exaggerated versions of the sudden fights or are pure figments of imagination. The inconsistencies in the FIR and during trial in cases under section 354 are one of the facts leading to acquittal of the accused. Some incidents mentioned in the FIRs are so bizarre that no man of ordinary prudence would believe it. Also, nowadays it is often seen that unscrupulous women cry molestation. Therefore, to put such cases at rest, the Bombay High Court has held:

"The test will be whether a reasonable man will think that the act of the accused was intended to or was known to be likely to outrage the modesty of the woman, if a quarrel takes place suddenly, for which both parties are more or less to be blamed, then, by no stretch of imagination can it be held that in the resultant scuffle between the quarrelling parties, the accused persons either intended or knew it to be likely that they will thereby outrage the modesty of woman."

In this regard, the Supreme Court has stated that the approach that ordinarily a lady would not put her character at stake may not be wrong but the same cannot be applied universally. Each case has to be determined on the touchstone of the facts and circumstances surrounding it as the law reports are replete with decisions where charges under sections 376 (rape) and 354 (outrage the modesty of a woman) have been found to be falsely advanced.

FAQ's on IPC Section 354

What offence is defined under IPC 354?

IPC 354 Offence: Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.

What is the punishment for IPC 354 Case?

The punishment for IPC 354 is 1 to 5 years + Fine.

Is IPC 354 cognizable offence or non-cognizable offence?

IPC 354 is a Cognizable.

How to file/defend your case for IPC 354 offence?

Use LawRato for filing/defending your case under IPC 354 with the help of best criminal lawyers near you.

Is IPC 354 bailable or non-bailable offence?

IPC 354 is a Non-bailable offence.

In what court can IPC 354 be tried?

IPC 354 is tried in the court of Any Magistrate.

Legal Questions Answered by Top Lawyers on IPC 354

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