The Delhi High Court has come up with a verdict which says a man peeping inside the women's washroom would be liable for the grave offence of voyeurism as well as for the invasion of her privacy.
The verdict was heralded after a young man was convicted for gazing inside the washroom.
The case has been filed in 2021 when a young man was found peeping inside the women's washroom outside a jhuggi. These sorts of obscene cases keep taking place although being unaware of the legal action, women cease from taking an action. However, this case will be a landmark in this regard and impart the ground for legal action which can even lead to rigorous punishment by law and force.
Peeping Inside Female Washroom An Offence
Justice Swarana K. Sharma cites, "The act of a perpetrator peeping inside will amount to the invasion of her privacy".
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma while reading out the verdict articulated that it is indeed worth questioning that a lady having a bath inside a closed bathroom has denied her right to privacy. She can't be observed or viewed by anyone as she is behind closed walls or behind a curtain. It clearly asserts that nobody without her consent can trespass or slide his/her gaze into her private space. The conduct of a culprit peeping inside the aforementioned bathroom would undoubtedly result in the invasion of her privacy.
The accused couldn't be convicted under POCSO Act
The court after scrutiny discarded his conviction under section 12 of the POCSO Act after the prosecution failed in proving he was a minor during the incident. Additionally, the court dismissed the appellant's counsel's contention that the victim was using a public restroom, the act of misconduct wouldn't be validated. "Even in those circumstances, it will be an invasion of her privacy." "No one has the right, even in those circumstances, to take her pictures, movies, or even other recordings as anticipated by Section 354C of the IPC and the Explanation thereto," the court concluded.
While analysing section 354C the court depicted the definition of exhibitionism that would encompass the act of watching by the perpetrator in a place utilised by a woman where she is involved in a "private act" that would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where her sexual organs, buttocks, or breasts are revealed or covered only in underwear.
Peeping Inside Washrooms can lead to Voyeurism
Considering that the goal of introducing voyeurism was to reduce sexual crime against women while also protecting their privacy and sexual integrity, the court stated: "The law must ensure that all citizens can live peacefully and with peace of mind, knowing that their privacy is protected and that such trespass and mischief will draw the illegality of voyeuristic behaviour on the part of the perpetrator of the crime." Every person's sexual integrity must be respected, and any transgression must be dealt with harshly."
The court also seemed thoroughly reluctant with the appellant's counsel's submission that if the judgment is not reversed, it will imply that anybody could be prosecuted simply for being present at public locations where women may be bathing, for instance, religious sites, holy rivers, and swimming pools.
In order to curb this predicament, it was also proclaimed that even if any person is having a sacred bath at any holy site, nobody has the right to record them or make their clip viral without their consent. If anyone is found indulging in these malpractices, certain action has to take place. However, merely being there (in a public place) could not lead to charges of Voyeurism as it does not hamper the right to privacy of anyone.
Suggested reading: Right To Privacy Is A Fundamental Right, Rules Supreme Court