Bombay High Court: Mere Presence at the Crime Scene Not Enough for Punishment

The Bombay High Court ruled that it cannot be considered a crime if a person is merely present at the crime scene which falls under the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels and Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women Act, 2016. It also quashed two First Information Reports (FIR) against two individuals who were arrested in a raid at a dance bar by the Santacruz Police, in 2017.

The Court ruled that the two were not involved in any obscene acts nor had they abetted the crime so the mere presence of them at that place and time will not be considered a crime.

During the hearing, Advocates Rajesh Khobragade and Gayatri Nayak informed the division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale that there were no specific allegations against the two, nor had they done anything which would attract the charges mentioned in the FIR and charge sheet given by the police.

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The two men were booked under section 294 of the IPC which states the punishment for obscene acts for the public by the Santacruz police on January 21, 2017. They were booked on the allegation that obscene dances were being performed by the women in the bar owned by other accused persons and the two men were present at that time.

The advocates argued that when the elements of the crime were not met by the two men, there was no point in making them face trials and levelling charges against them thus, they asked for the complaint against him to be set aside.

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Last year, the court had given a stay order on the two men.

The Public Prosecutor VB Konde-Deshmukh submitted that the names of the two men were clearly stated in the FIR and materials proved that they were present at the spot of the incident and thus according to him, the petition had to be dismissed.

After hearing both sides the bench observed that no allegations under Section 294 were made against the two men, and the crime can only be committed if the elements of the crime are met or if the person was an abettor of the crime when it was committed. Since the materials did not indicate any such action the two men cannot be held liable.

The Court further stated that the mere mentioning of names in the FIR and the charge sheet will not suffice, and there was not enough material to prove that the two men were indulged in the crime and satisfied the elements. Thus the court quashed the FIR against the two men.


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