Supreme Court (SC) on Friday directed the states to take stringent measures to curb sexual harassment of women. Slamming the laws governing sexual violence in the country as woefully inadequate, the apex court asked the states to deploy policewomen in plain clothes in large numbers at public places such as bus stands, cinema halls, metro stations and railway stations.
SC issued a slew of guidelines. “All state governments/and Union territories are directed to depute plain-clothes female police officers in the precincts of bus stands, 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,” a bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and D. Misra said.
The court said the guidelines were necessary as there is “no uniform law” to deal with the menace. “We notice that there is no uniform law in this country to curb eve-teasing effectively in or within the precincts of educational institutions, places of worship, bus stands, metro-stations, railway stations, cinema theatres, parks, beaches, places of festival, public service vehicles or any other similar place,” the bench said.
The court, in its 26-page judgment, said the menace of sexual harassment and molestation can be effectively curbed with a little effort and if unchecked, its consequences could be “disastrous” as like sexual harassment, eve-teasing amounts to violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
“Consequences of not curbing such a menace, needless to say, are at times disastrous. There are many instances where girls of young age are being harassed, which sometimes may lead to serious psychological problems and even committing suicide.
“Every citizen in this country has the 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 amounts to violation of rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 as well,” it said.
The state government and the Union territories will have to install CCTV in strategic positions which itself would be a deterrent and if detected, the offender could be caught, it said.
“Persons in-charge of 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 help centre,” it added.