SC issues tough guidelines to curb eve-teasing

FP

The court's directions came while hearing an appeal by the Tamil Nadu police department against an order to re-instate a police officer, who had been dismissed after being found guilty of harassing a woman. The high court had passed the order after the officer had been acquitted by a criminal court.

The apex court reversed the HC's order saying disciplinary proceedings had rightly held the officer guilty and that he was acquitted by the criminal court not because he was proven innocent but because the witnesses, including the woman complainant, turned hostile.

"Eve-teasing today has become pernicious, horrid and disgusting practice. More and more girl students, women go to educational institutions, work places etc. 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 etc. are horrendous and a painful ordeal," the bench said.

"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, adding the crime violated fundamental rights of women.

It said directives from the SC were also required since the proposed Protection of Woman against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, which is intended to protect female workers in workplaces, was "not sufficient to curb eve-teasing." Moreover, of all the states, only Tamil Nadu had come up with a legislation against harassment after the crime led to the death of a woman in 1998, it said.

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