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Report No. 84

XV. Assaults, Outraging Modesty of Women and Indecent Assaults

2.28. Section 354 and proposed section 354A.-

We have so far discussed the offence of rape. We now deal with a few allied but less heinous offences. What is generally known as the offence of indecent assault is dealt with in section 354 of the Penal Code. This section punishes a person who assaults or uses criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her "modesty". The Law Commission,1 in its Report on the Penal Code, had occasion to refer to a judgment of the Supreme Court2 in which it was held that even a baby of seven and a half months old has "modesty" that can be "outraged" by the use of criminal force within the meaning of this section. The Commission was of the opinion that (apart from assault to outrage "modesty"), acts of indecency with children should be made specifically punishable by a new section, reading as follows:-

"354A. Indecent assault on a minor.- Whoever assaults any minor under sixteen years of age in an indecent, lascivious or obscene manner, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both."

We agree with the recommendation quoted above from the earlier Report, in so far as it goes.

1. Law Commission of India, 42nd Report (Indian Penal Code), paras. 16.85 to 16.87.

2. State of Punjab v. Major Singh, AIR 1967 SC 63 (65, 67): Cr LI 1: 1966 (Suppl) SCR 286.

Rape and Allied Offences - Some Questions of Substantive Law, Procedire and Evidence Back

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