More than a month after a 39-year-old man was accused of molesting a minor Bollywood actor on board an Air Vistara flight, the actor might withdraw the case against the accused, her team told The Indian Express.
On December 9, 2017, Vikas Sachdev, a Mumbai-based businessman, was booked under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC, and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) after a statement by the actor accused Sachdev of molesting her. He was later granted bail by a Mumbai court.
“The accused has been named and shamed in the act. In the past few days, a few people reached out to us to know the status of the case and she has expressed that she would be happy to pardon him,” said a member of her team, adding: “The actor was in deep shock and in a dilemma after the incident. She does not want to punish the accused for what has happened and wants to give him a chance to rectify the mistake.”
The actor had shared her ordeal in a series of Instagram posts, which are now deleted. The airline did not want to comment on the issue.
Earlier, A special court on Wednesday granted bail to senior executive Vikas Sachdeva who was accused of sexually harassing a co-passenger, a minor, while travelling business class 11 days ago, on a Delhi-Mumbai flight. On Monday, Sachdeva’s lawyer Harminder Anand concluded his arguments that bail ought to be granted as not only was there no case made out against him under a special law meant to protect minors from sexual abuse, it would also serve no purpose, except to tarnish his reputation further, if his custody is continued.
A special judge AD Deo, in Dindoshi sessions court premises who hears cases under the salutary law—Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso) had on December 10 sent Sachdeva to two days of police custody before sending him to judicial on the second remand plea. The judge on Wednesday granted him bail of a personal bond of Rs 25000 and a surety of like amount. The court granted his lawyer’s request for a cash bail. Sachdeva who works in a company connected to entertainment industry, will now be released from Taloja prison where he was housed, on Thursday.
Anand had argued that there was a “distance of a foot and a half from the arm rest to a neck” and allegations that Sachdeva rubbed the minor co-passenger’s neck from a seat behind in the business class do not even sound right.
Munna Inamdar the prosecutor opposed Sachdeva’s bail plea on the grounds that he may tamper and threaten the witness. Anand said that his client is a family man and unlikely to threaten anyone.
While seeking his custody, the prosecutor had argued that Sachdeva had “purposely rubbed his right foot” on the minor’s neck and back of shoulder, “repeatedly even after she had moved away” in her seat. She had said that his behaviour was “shameless and with sexual intent.” Under Pocso, it is only an offence if the perpetrator touches a minor on certain private body parts or has ‘any other physical contact’ with ‘sexual intent.’
Anand had argued that Sachdeva was asleep and “a man in sleep is like a dead person who can’t be said to have sexual intent”.
Sachdeva was arrested on December 10 and was sent to judicial custody till December 22.
The minor, a film actor, was travelling with her mother on a late night Vistara flight on Saturday, December 9. She was allegedly harassed by a frequent flyer when the cabin lights were dimmed in preparation for landing. The accused, a highly-placed official in a private company, was seated right her in a window seat. He was accused of placing his foot on her arm rest and rubbing a foot on her shoulder back and neck.
The Mumbai police had swung into action after the actor narrated her in-flight experience on social media which generated a media frenzy. On Sunday it registered a case of sexual harassment under section 354 of Indian Penal Code and ‘sexual assault’ under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, an offence defined under section 7 and punishable under section 8, with a minimum three years and as many as five years in jail.
Anand said that Sachdeva had told the cabin crew not to disturb him as he was returning to Mumbai the same night, after having flown to Delhi in the morning for a ceremony following his uncle’s death.
He reiterated how the mother and daughter did not wish to file any complaint even after the airline crew asked them on disembarking. “The FIR appears to be an afterthought.” Anand also said that a co-passenger had said Sachdeva was asleep.