The phrase “f**k off” is sexually coloured and can invite prosecution for outraging the modesty of an individual, a Delhi court has held, calling it a “vulgar”, “offensive American slang” that it is not used in Indian society, schools or colleges to ask anyone to leave.
The ruling by the court came while upholding the charges framed against a man for allegedly outraging a woman’s modesty by using the phrase and threatening her in 2019.
What court said in its order
In his order passed on October 29, Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Sharma said the word is American vulgar slang and an offensive word.
“In Indian society, schools or colleges, this word is not used to ask anyone to leave or go away. Moreover, given the facts and circumstances of the incident, it cannot be said that the petitioner was merely intending to ask the complainant to leave or go away. In ordinary sense, the said word is abusive, offensive and humiliating,” the court said.
The case in court
According to the first information report (FIR), the accused had abused the woman on May 9, 2015, at her house, also calling her a “bazaru aurat”. A magistrate’s court had on August 20 framed charges against the accused under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 509 (outraging a woman’s modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
What accused said
The accused challenged the order, saying “f**k off” is not a sexually coloured remark, adding that he had used the phrase only to ask the woman to leave the premises. He contended that the meaning of the phrase is defined in Cambridge Dictionary (UK) as “…to leave or go away, used specially as a rude way of telling someone to go away…”.
The accused’s counsel had also contended that “f**k off” is generally used in society, colleges and universities.
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What prosecution said
The prosecution contended that the word ‘f*** off’ is a sexually coloured remark and must be construed in its ordinary sense. It contended that the “petitioner along with other persons entered into the woman’s house and threatened her and her family to throw them out”. The prosecutor said they also addressed the complainant as ‘bazaru aurat’ and that there was sufficient material to proceed against the petitioner.
However, additional sessions judge Sanjay Sharma, in his six-page order on October 29, rejected the plea. “Moreover, given the facts and circumstances of the incident, it cannot be said that the petitioner was merely intending to ask the complainant to leave or go away. In ordinary sense, the said word is abusive, offensive and humiliating. This Court does not find any merit in the contention of counsel for the petitioner that the dictionary meaning of the word is defined as ‘to leave or go away’. The said word is a ‘sexually coloured remark’.”
”The judge said prima facie there is a case that the petitioner said “f**k off” with the intent to insult the modesty of the complainant. He noted that the complainant had specifically stated that the man asked her to shut up and sit in a corner. “She has specifically stated that the petitioner along with other persons threatened her and her family and also threatened to throw them out of the house.”
In August, a Mahila Court had framed charges against the accused under IPC sections 354A (sexual harassment), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).
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