The Supreme Court on Friday passed a slew of directives like setting up of women helplines, installation of CCTV cameras and deployment of plain-clothed police personnel at public places to prevent instances of eve-teasing in the absence of a uniform law to deal with the offence.
Referring to similar orders delivered by the apex court in Vishaka’s case to prevent sexual harassment of women in workplace, a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said, the directions to state and Union territories were necessary to save women from the “painful ordeal”.
“We notice that there is no uniform law in this country to curb eve-teasing effectively. 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,” the bench said.
“Eve teasing today has become pernicious, horrid and disgusting practice. More number of girl students, women go to educational institutions, work places and their protection is of extreme importance to a civilised and cultured society. The experiences of women and girl children in over-crowded buses, metros, trains are horrendous and a painful ordeal,” the court added.
The Bench was hearing an appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu Police challenging a Madras High Court order to re-instate a police officer who was removed from his job after being found guilty of eve-teasing.
The apex court set aside the HC’s order, noting that disciplinary proceedings had rightly held the officer guilty and that he was acquitted by the criminal court as witnesses, including the complainant, did not support the case.
Among the measures, the apex court directed all the states and Union territories to establish within three months Women Helpline in various cities and towns to curb eve-teasing.
The bench also asked them to deploy plain-clothed female police officers near public places like bus stands, railway stations, metro stations, cinema halls, shopping malls, parks to check such incidents. Besides, the court ordered for installations of CCTV cameras in public places, which would help in catching offenders and also act as a deterrent.
The permit to ply for a public carrier would be cancelled if the driver or anyone else in-charge of the vehicle fails to take it to a nearest police station on receiving a complaint about eve-teasing, the court said.
Eve-teasing violated fundamental rights of women, the court said, while noting that the proposed Protection of Woman against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, intended to protect female workers in workplaces was “not sufficient to curb eve-teasing.”