South Mumbai building's 70-yr-old secretary accused of indecent exposure

After a 50-year-old woman from a housing society in South Mumbai filed an FIR against the building's 70-year-old secretary for indecent exposure and outraging her modesty, he went from pillar to post to gather character certificates from neighbours. He claims an enmity over society politics is the reason for this 'false' complaint

At the ripe age of 70, a building secretary from a south Mumbai society has been forced to approach his members for a character certificate, after his 50-year-old neighbour filed an FIR against him for indecent exposure and outraging her modesty.

I'm innocent: Sahil Shah has been residing in the building since 1979 and has been the secretary for over 15 years. Pic/Shailesh Bhatia
I'm innocent: Sahil Shah has been residing in the building since 1979 and has been the secretary for over 15 years. Pic/Shailesh Bhatia 

In the FIR filed at Gamdevi police station on April 7, homemaker and mother of two has alleged that Sandip Shah roams around semi-naked in the common passage and makes obscene gestures at other residents.

sunday mid-day is in possession of the FIR, where the complainant has alleged that on April 6, at around 10 am, Shah allegedly opened his door, dressed only in his underwear, obscenely gestured to his privates and threatened her with dire consequences, as he was the building secretary. Based on the FIR, the Gamdevi police arrested Shah from his residence. He was produced in court on the same day and granted bail for
Rs 15,000.

'False case'
Shah, a widower with two children working in the United States, has alleged that an enmity from some society affairs has led to the false case being filed against him. "I have been residing in the building since 1979 and have been the secretary for over 15 years. There has never been any reason for anyone to doubt my integrity.

Pic for representational purpose only
Pic for representational purpose only 

I had objected to some illegal construction in one of the flats, which was undertaken without the requisite BMC permissions and also objected to another transfer of a flat, which belongs to the complainant, as the paperwork was incomplete," said Shah, producing eight letters written by the residents, speaking in his favour. (sunday mid-day has copies).

When contacted, the complainant handed over the phone to her husband, who said that they had given all the statements to the police and since the case was sub-judice, they did not wish to comment further. Investigating officer API Shamrao Patil said that based on the accusations made by the complainant, the police had filed an FIR, under sections 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC. "We are investigating the case and are yet to take the statement of the complainant," said Patil.

Residents speak
Sashi Tanna, the chairman of the society and his wife Mrunal, who have issued letters in Shah's favour, said that they know him for over 35 years and the incident was a blatant misuse of the law. "That is the reason that majority of the society members and lady residents, excluding two complainants — who happen to be sisters-in-law — have come forward to show our solidarity with a straightforward man, who is unnecessarily being harassed, based on a malicious complaint," said Tanna.

Deepika Joshi, a retired advertising professional and resident of the society, also came out strongly in favour of Shah, deeming the entire episode as a drama. "I am a single women residing here since 2004 and I often drop by to have a cup of tea with Shah and never once felt that his behaviour was questionable or made me uncomfortable.

It is unfortunate that someone has stooped so low to settle a personal score over society matters." Habib Datoobhoy, who too has given letters of recommendation to Shah along with his wife Rehana, said that he has known the accused for over 20 years and always found his behaviour to be courteous. "Now it is for the police to verify the case," he said.

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