Published: 22nd December 2021
Karnataka High Court rejects bail plea of senior advocate in sexual harassment case
The counsel for the accused argued that based on content of the complaint against the accused by the victim, it is not possible to file a rape case under IPC Section 376
The Karnataka High Court has rejected the anticipatory bail plea of accused senior advocate KSN Rajesh Bhat in connection with the sexual harassment case filed against him by a law graduate. The accused is currently in police custody.
The bench headed by Justice K. Natarajan said the accused is an advocate and could influence police, university and judges. The anticipatory bail can't be provided in these cases, the bench added.
The counsel for the accused argued that based on content of the complaint against the accused by the victim, it is not possible to file a rape case under IPC Section 376. Likewise, a person cannot be hanged for sexual harassment case filed under IPC Section 354. Three years of imprisonment could be imposed for an offence under IPC Section 354. Along with this, there is delay in lodging of the complaint.
He said the victim is maintaining that CCTV footage has been destroyed. However, they could be retrieved even now. The petitioner has surrendered before the police and been subjected to medical tests. There is no need for the police to take him into custody and investigate. Hence, anticipatory bail could be granted to him, the counsel added.
The public prosecutor objected to this and told the court that it is necessary for the police to take him into custody for further inquiry. His mobile has to be seized to retrieve CCTV footage and video clips. The accused is an influential person and it is said that he could bribe the system. The case against the accused is heinous in nature. There is all possibility of him destroying evidence in the case, he added.
The bench after hearing the argument and counterarguments observed that there is rape charge against the accused. If the content of the complaint by the victim is considered, it appears that the accused had attempted to rape the victim who was working as an intern. However, as the victim was alert, the possibility of her becoming a rape victim has been averted.
"The accused's acts of touching the body of the innocent victim by misusing his position could be considered as rape or attempt to rape. It appears that the accused has tried to misuse the weakness of the victim by showing her videos. The police are required to take him into their custody and seize CCTV, mobile, chats and other evidence," it said.
The bench quashed the request of the accused by saying even as there are no charges which would attract capital punishment or life term, anticipatory bail can't be provided for a case of such a serious nature. The accused surrendered before the local court in Mangaluru in Karnataka on Monday and was sent to judicial custody. The police have formed special teams to nab him and have been searching for him for more than two months.
The victim, who is a law graduate student, has filed a case of sexual harassment against the accused KSN Rajesh Bhat on October 18. The police have suspended two police officials, including a female sub-inspector for dereliction of duty, in connection with the case and arrested three persons.
The police had issued a lookout notice through Intelligence Bureau to all airports of the country to prevent him from escaping to a foreign country. Four teams were formed to nab the accused. The police have given notice to banks to freeze the accused person's 12 bank accounts. They have been told to inform police whenever there is a money transaction done by the accused.
The accused had been suspended from membership of the Karnataka State Bar Council until further orders and instructions were given to him not to practice at the courts following the FIR against him. Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) authorities had earlier directed the accused not to continue as its Special Public Prosecutor at Third Additional District and Sessions court. Investigations are on.