Women's law: Maharashtra told not to wait for Parliament

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Mumbai, Jan 4: Taking serious note of the spate of rape and molestation cases, the Bombay High Court today said Maharashtra government should not wait for Parliament to amend laws and asked it to bring about changes in its own statute to tackle the menace.

According to an NGO, 97 per cent females above the age of 15 have faced sexual abuse or eve-teasing.

"Why should you wait for the Parliament. You can bring about the changes in the law yourself," a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice AV Mohta said. The High Court directed the state government to consider amending the law and file an affidavit within four weeks.

"Tamil Nadu has recently passed an act against eve-teasing. Maharashtra can also follow and set an example," Chief Justice Shah said. "Maharashtra is considered a progressive state. If sections like 354, 506 and 509 of IPC are made non-bailable then it will act as a deterrent," the court said, adding, "because these offences are bailable men think they will get away after passing lewd comments."

While section 354 and 506 deal with assault and use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of a woman and criminal intimidation, 509 relates to use of word, gesture or an act intended to insult their modesty. The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by city based NGO Help Mumbai Foundation regarding women's safety in the city. The NGO's affidavit said that 97 per cent of women above the age of 15 years are subjected to either sexual abuse or eve-teasing.

The court has also sought an affidavit from the railway authorities on recruitment and deployment of women constables and home guards at railway stations and local trains.

The state government has also been asked to report on what steps it has taken pursuant to directions issued by the Supreme Court on Nov 3, 2012 to all state governments regarding eve-teasing. It asked the government to submit the recommendations made by the CS Dharmadhikari committee regarding women safety issues. The matter will be heard next on Jan 17.


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