The Bombay High Court on 3 March, granted bail to a 41-year-old businessman who was convicted in a case of molestation of a former actor on a domestic flight, in December 2017.
The bench headed by Justice Prithviraj Chavan admitted the appeal of a 41-year-old businessman, Vikas Sachdeva, who challenged his conviction. The court further granted him bail, on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 with two sureties and on a condition that he cannot leave Mumbai without the court’s permission.
Earlier, on 15 January, the sessions court convicted the accused Vikas Sachdeva, under Section 354 (assault or criminal force on woman with an intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, since the victim was a minor at the time of the incident and granted him three years’ imprisonment.
However, the accused then appealed the sessions court order in the High Court, on 20 February claiming that the trial court has erred in finding him guilty.
Advocate Aniket Nikam, appearing for the accused contended that there is no independent evidence to corroborate the testimony of the victim, particularly because of several additions and omissions. He further argued that even though his client’s leg had touched the victim, it must have been a mistake and without any intention to harass her.
To this, the court stated, “Sachdev was traveling in a business class where you have a lot of space, then why keep your leg on someone else’s armrest?” Nonetheless, the counsel for the accused argued, “if that was the case, then why did the victim nor her mother complained to the flight crew members? Why did they walk out the flight smiling?”
“There is no formula on how a woman should behave or react to such incidents. This is not mathematics. There is no straitjacket formula on how a woman should behave or react when faced with such a situation,” asserted the bench.
Further while highlighting the daily struggles of women who face similar incidents of harassment while traveling in local trains and buses, the bench added “A woman may speak less but she understands more. It is a natural gift for a woman to understand touch. Look, a man may not understand, but a woman knows man’s intention when he touches her. It is only the victim who can talk about the accused person.”
The incident took place when the victim, then 17 years old, was traveling by an Air Vistara flight from Delhi to Mumbai. She narrated the incident through a video post on the social media platform (Instagram), wherein she described that a middle-aged man, who was sitting right behind her kept nudging her shoulder and rubbed his foot up and down on her back and neck throughout the journey.
The accused, identified as Vikas Sachdev was subsequently arrested and later released on bail.