TODAY -

Supreme court on eve-teasing of woman And Its guidelines

A Romen Kumar Singh *

eve-teasing of woman in India



"There will never be a generation of great men
Until there has been a generation of free women

- Of free mothers"
ROBERT INGERSOLL

1. The Indian Freedom Struggle is an unfinished mission until our mothers, sisters and daughters are restored to their social, economic, Political and Cultural dignity in reality. Karl Marx proves his proposition tearfully and loudly in the cruel streets and slums of Indian Cities when he says:

"Now the capitalist system buys children and young persons under age. Previously, the work man sold his own labour power, which he disposed of nominally as a free agent. Now he sells wife and child. He has become a slave dealer".

At bottom, the female gender is the victim of ancient law and modern law, of mythology and all religions, of lust bazaars and of feudalism, capitalism and crypto-fascism thinly veneered by constitutional equalism.

2. CYNOSURE OF CONSTITUTIONAL CONCERN:

Jurisprudentially speaking, it is clear from the provisions of the Constitution of India that this dignity of womanhood, as a special factor of personhood, has been the salutary cynosure of constitutional concern. Sex equality in public employment and public office is assured. Special measures for uplift of women are mandated. Equal pay for equal work regardless of sex is State Policy now expressed in legislation. Exploitation and moral and material abandonment of youth are frowned upon by the constitution. If LAW'S promises were facts of life, India would be women's paradise. And yet, masculine realities and gender perversities so sinisterly haunt our culture that Indian Womanhood has to make a long march to reach a level of justice, equity and good conscience.

3. WHILE WE ARE CELEBRATING WOMEN'S RIGHT IN ALL SPHERES WE SHOW LITTLE OR NO CONCERN TO HER HONOUR:

Om Prakash V. State of U.P.,
(2006) 9 SCC 787
2006(5) SCALE 614-Para 14
Page. 791 Para 14


Of late, crime against women in general and rape in particular is on the increase. It is an irony that while we are celebrating women's right in all spheres, we show little or no concern for her honour. It is a sad reflection on the attitude of indifference of the society towards the violation of human dignity of the victims of sex crimes. We must remember that a rapist not only violates the victim's privacy and personal integrity, but inevitably causes serious psychological as well as physical harm in the process. Rape is not merely a physical assault it is often destructive of the whole personality of the victim. A murderer destroys the physical body of his victim, a rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female.

4. In addition to the above malady of Crime Against Woman, another menace of eve-teasing of woman is on the increase. Eve-teasing in public places has been a perennial problem. Recently, incidents of eve-teasing leading to serious injuries to, and even death of a woman have been reported. Such act of eve-teasing, apart from dehumanising act, is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a female. It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity. It humiliates the victim and leaves a traumatic experience behind her.

5. Eve-teasing is a euphemism, a conduct which attracts penal action. Eve-teasing is a menace to society as a whole and has to be eradicated. But there is no specific legislation in the country except the state of Tamil Nadu which has enacted Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Eve-Teasing ordnance, 1998 which later became an Act, namely, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Eve-Teasing Act, 1998.

6. SERIOUS CONCERN OF SUPREME COURT

On 30.11.2012 the Supreme Court in a case as reported in the Deputy Inspector General of Police and another versus S. Samuthiram, 2012(11) SCALE 420 directed the central Government to legislate effective legislation to contain eve-teasing.

7. BRIEF OF THE CASE

In this case, a policeman under the influence of liquor on 9.7.1999 at about 11 PM misbehaved and eve-teased a married lady near a bus stand in the presence of her husband. He was caught in the act of eve-teasing of a married woman leading to criminal and disciplinary proceeding, ending in his dismissal from service.

8. But the accused policeman was acquitted in the criminal case of eve-teasing by the Judicial Magistrate, Tenkasi as both the victim lady and her husband turned hostile out of fear of the accused policeman. The accused policeman filed an Application before the Tribunal against his dismissal from service on the ground that since he was acquitted by the criminal court he should be reinstated in service. But the Tribunal rejected his application. He filed writ Petition before the Madras High Court and the High Court allowed his writ petition. The High Court took the view that if a criminal case and departmental proceedings against an official are based on the same set of facts and evidence and the criminal case ended in honourable acquittal and not on technical grounds, imposing punishment of removal of the delinquent official from service, based on the findings of domestic enquiry would not be legally sustainable. The matter came up before the Supreme Court and the Apex Court reversed the judgement of the Madras High Court and held as follows:

9. MEANING OF EVE-TEASING

Eve-teasing to-day has become pernicious, horrid and disgusting practice. The Indian Journal of Criminology and Criminalistics (January-June 1999 Edition) has categorised eve-teasing into five heads viz: (1) Verbal eve-teasing; (2) physical eve-teasing; (3) psychological harassment; (4) Sexual harassment and (5) harassment through some objects.

In Vishaka and others V. State of Rajasthan, (1977)6 SCC 241, the Supreme Court has laid down certain guidelines on sexual harassment. In Rupan Deol Bajaj and another V. K.P.S. Gill, (1995)6 SCC 194, the Supreme Court has explained the meaning of "MODESTY" in relation to women. More and more girl students, women etc. go to educational institutions, work places etc. and their protection is of extreme importance to a civilized and cultured Society. The experiences of women and girl children in over-crowded buses, metros, trains etc. are horrendous and a painful ordeal.

10. GUIDELINES ISSUED BY THE APEX COURT

The Parliament is currently considering the Protection Woman against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, which is intended to protect female workers in most workplaces. Provisions of that Bill are not sufficient to curb eve-teasing. Before undertaking suitable legislation to curb eve-teasing, it is necessary to take at least some urgent measures so that it can be curtailed to some extent. In public interest, we are therefore inclined to give the following directions:

(1) All the State Governments and Union Territories are directed to depute plain clothed female police officers in the precincts of bus stands and stops, railway stations, metro stations, cinema theatres, shopping malls, parks, beaches, public service vehicles, places of worship etc. so as to monitor and supervise incidents of eve-teasing.

(2) There will be a further direction to the State Government and Union Territories to install CCTV in strategic positions which itself would be a deterrent and if detected, the offender could be caught.

(3) Persons in-charge of the educational institutions, places of worship, cinema theatres, railway stations, bus-stands have to take steps as they deem fit to prevent eve-teasing, within their precincts and, on a complaint being made, they must pass on the information to the nearest police station or the WOMEN'S HELPLINE.

(4) Where any incident of eve-teasing is committed in a public service vehicle either by the passengers or the persons in charge of the vehicle, the crew of such vehicle shall, on a complaint made by the aggrieved person, take such vehicle to the nearest police station and give information to the police. Failure to do so should lead to cancellation of the permit to ply.

(5) State Governments and Union Territories are directed to establish WOMEN HELPLINE in various cities and towns, so as to curb eve-teasing within three months.

(6) Suitable boards cautioning such act of eve-teasing be exhibited in all public places including precincts of educational institutions, bus stands, railway stations, cinema theatres, parks, beaches, public service vehicles, places of worship etc.

(7) Responsibility is also on the passers-by and on noticing such incident, they should also report the same to the nearest police station or to WOMEN HELPLINE to save the victims from such crimes.

(8) The State Governments and Union Territories of India would take adequate and effective measures by issuing suitable instructions to the concerned authorities including the District collectors and District Superintendent of Police so as to take effective and proper measures to curb such incidents of eve-teasing.

NECESSITYOF A PROPER LEGISLATION TO CURB EVE-TEASING

The Apex Court observed that we notice that there is no uniform law in this country to curb eve-teasing effectively in or within the precinct of educational institutions, places of worship, bus stands, metro stations, railway stations, cinema theatres, park, beaches, places of festival, public service vehicles or any other similar place. Eve-teasing generally occurs in public places which, with a little effort, can be effectively curbed. Consequences of not curbing such a menace needless to say, at times disastrous.

There are many instances where girls at young age are being harassed, which sometimes may lead to serious psychological problems and even committing suicide. Every citizen in this country has right to live with dignity and honour which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Sexual harassment like eve-teasing of women amounts to violation of rights guaranteed under Article 14, 15 as well. We notice, in the absence of effective legislation to contain eve-teasing, normally, complaints are registered under Section 294 or Section 509 IPC.

The Apex Court at Para 30 held that "The necessity of a proper legislation to curb eve-teasing is of extreme importance, even the Tamil Nadu Legislation has no teeth.

The imperative tone of the mandate of the directives of the Supreme-Court which is binding on all under Article 141 of the Constitution obligates the State Government and concerned authorities to implement the directives in letter and spirit without any exception to curb the eve-teasing.


* A Romen Kumar Singh, (Retd IPS) wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition) and The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 29, 2012








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