Decided on November 18,2020

Devi Dayal Khajuria Appellant
STATE Respondents


SANJAY DHAR - (1.)Through the medium of instant petition, the petitioner has challenged the proceedings initiated against him by the Court of learned Judicial Magistrate 1 st Class (Munsiff) Akhnoor (hereinafter referred to as the 'trial Magistrate') emanating from FIR No. 7/2016 that has culminated in filing of charge sheet bearing No. 24/2016 for offence under Section 354-A RPC.
(2.)As per the contents of charge sheet, which is subject matter of instant petition, the petitioner, who was serving as Head Master in Government Girls Middle School Kot Maira, used to make telephone calls to the respondent No.2, who was also serving as Teacher in the same school. This was being done by the petitioner with an intention to develop physical relations with the respondent No.2, thereby causing harassment to her. During investigation of the case, it was stated by respondent No.2 in her statement recorded under Section 164 of Cr.PC that, on 17.09.2014 when all other staff of the said school was on leave and the students had left the school, the petitioner came near her and attempted to kiss her. She has further stated that the petitioner tried to catch hold of her private parts and in the meantime, two students came over there and petitioner started talking to them and the respondent No.2 went away from there. On the basis of the said statement of respondent No.2, the police, after investigation of the case, found that the offence under Section 354-A RPC is made out against the petitioner and produced the challan which is subject matter of instant petition. It is pertinent to mention here that the report was lodged before the police by respondent No.3, the husband of respondent No.2. Upon presentation of the challan, the learned trial Magistrate took cognizance of the offence and issued process against the petitioner. It is these proceedings which are under challenge before this Court by way of the instant petition.
(3.)The primary ground on which the petitioner has challenged the proceedings initiated against him is that, in matters pertaining to sexual harassment of women at work place, cognizance in respect thereto can be taken by the Court only in accordance with the provisions of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), Act 2013 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act of 2013'). According to the learned counsel for petitioner, as per Section 27 of the Act of 2013, cognizance of offences under the said Act can be taken only on a complaint made by the aggrieved woman or any other person authorized by the Internal Committee or Local Committee in this behalf. The complaint in the instant case has been filed by the husband of respondent No.2, as such, according to the learned counsel, the trial Magistrate could not have taken cognizance of the offence against the petitioner.

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