The Bombay High Court has quashed criminal proceedings against investor Mahesh Murthy in an alleged case of sexual harassment from 2004. While hearing the case, the court observed that the delay of 14 years in filing the FIR is not "properly explained".
"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. In other words, neither delay is properly explained nor there are reasons by the magistrate for condoning the same in the interests of justice," a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and N J Jamadar said in an order last week, according to a report by Indian Express.
The prosecution argued that the limitation period to file a complaint doesn't apply to sexual offences. However, the court countered the claim and said the limitation period applies to all crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The complainant's lawyer also argued that Murthy is a "serial sex offender" but the court found the claims unacceptable due to the absence of supporting material.
The police had noted while registering a case against the Seedfund co-founder in March 2018, that even though the alleged incident had occurred in 2004, the complainant had recently "gathered the courage" to lodge a complaint after hearing of his arrest in a separate case of sexual misconduct.
In January 2018, the Mumbai Police had registered a case against Murthy for alleged sexual harassment, following several complaints from women to the National Commission of Women (NCW). The women complained about Murthy's alleged use of objectionable language against them online. A cognisable offence was registered at the Khar Police station under section 67 of IT Act, Sections 354 (D) and 509 of IPC.
On 9 February, 2018, Murthy was arrested from his Mumbai residence after returning from Goa. A month after he was granted bail, the Mumbai Police registered a second case of sexual harassment against him, that now stands dismissed.