The Bombay High Court has dismissed criminal proceedings against investor Mahesh Murthy for an alleged incident of sexual harassment in 2004 as the complainant did not properly explain the reason for filing the first information report 14 years after the alleged offence, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. The court order was passed last week.
“We have perused the order taking cognisance by the concerned magistrate and we find that neither there is an application by the prosecution for extension of limitation or condonation of delay nor there are reasons for condoning such a delay by the magistrate,” said Justices Ranjit More and NJ Jamadar. “In other words, neither delay is properly explained nor there are reasons by the magistrate for condoning the same in the interests of justice.”
The complainant had argued that Murthy was a “serial sexual offender” and the limitation period for filing criminal complaints did not apply to sexual offences. However, the court said the restriction on filing a complaint after the period of limitation applied to every offence under the Indian Penal Code. The judges said continuing Murthy’s prosecution would be “abuse of the process of law”.
According to Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the limitation period is three years for offences punishable with imprisonment up to three years. The court said this applied to Indian Penal Code sections 354 (sexual harassment) and 509 (outraging the modesty of a woman) – the offences Mahesh was charged with.
The Mumbai Police had registered a case against Murthy on December 30, 2017, for allegedly stalking and “outraging the modesty” of women. He was also charged under the Information Technology Act. Earlier that year, several complaints of sexual harassment surfaced against the investor, with some dating back to the early 2000s. Murthy had also written a post in an attempt to justify his actions.
In February 2018, the businessman received anticipatory bail hours after the police arrested him for allegedly sending derogatory and obscene messages to women.
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