"Driver's Conviction Upheld in Catcalling Case," Rules Punjab and Haryana High Court

Mainstream
12-Mar-2024
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In a recent verdict, the Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld the conviction of a private car driver accused of catcalling women in a case titled *Karan versus State of UT Chandigarh*. Justice Harpreet Singh Brar dismissed the driver's claim that he bore no responsibility for the lewd comments made by his co-accused, stating that their common intention was evident, holding the driver vicariously liable under Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

The incident, dating back to 2015, involved the petitioner and a co-accused driving through Chandigarh's Sector 36, making obscene remarks and gestures towards women. The prosecution presented evidence that the accused had followed and stalked the complainant and her friend, creating a menacing situation. The trial court had convicted them under various sections of the IPC in 2017 but granted a lenient view on punishment.

Challenging his conviction, the petitioner contended that the investigating officer, also the complainant, created a biased scenario, and questioned the lack of specific allegations against him. Justice Brar rejected these arguments, emphasizing that the investigating officer's role did not impede fairness, and the petitioner's presence in the car during the incident made him liable.

Quashing the notion that being the driver absolved him of responsibility, the Court stated, "Section 34 of IPC requires a meeting of minds between the accused persons and prior concert. Since that has been adequately established by the prosecution, the petitioner can be held vicariously liable for the acts of the co-accused."

The victim's testimony, highlighting offensive remarks even within the courtroom, further supported the Court's decision. The judge concluded that the petitioner failed to demonstrate material discrepancies in witness statements or illegality in the lower court's findings, leading to the dismissal of the revision petition.

The verdict reinforces accountability for individuals involved in such incidents, emphasizing the importance of common intention in determining liability.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer, MIT ADT University