Enact new laws to protect women from indecency, indignity: SC

NEW DELHI: In an important judgment when some political leaders were seen supporting khaps favouring early marriage of girls to prevent rape, the Supreme Court on Friday said Parliament and assemblies must consider enacting new laws to protect women from any form of indecency and indignity.

The court said, “The existing laws, if necessary, be revised and appropriate new laws be enacted by Parliament and the State Legislature to protect women from any form of indecency and disrespect at all places- in their homes as well as outside, prevent all forms of violence – domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment at the workplace.”

Reiterating that more teeth was needed to be given to the 15-year-old apex court judgment in Vishaka case laying down guidelines against sexual harassment, a bench of Justices R M Lodha, A R Dave and Ranjan Gogoi said the legislature must “provide new initiatives for education and advancement of women and girls in all spheres of life. After all they have limitless potential”.

Lip service, hollow statements and inert and inadequate laws with sloppy enforcement are not enough for true and genuine upliftment of our half most precious population – the women,” the bench said. It issued the following additional directions in a PIL filed by Medha Kotwal Lele:

Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee findings will be treated as inquiry committee findings by Disciplinary Authority against civil servants and government employees and not as preliminary findings

 States and UTs shall form adequate number of Complaints Committees so as to ensure that they function at taluka, district and state level within two months. Each complaints committee shall be headed by a woman

State functionaries and private and public sector undertakings/organizations/bodies/institutions etc shall put in place sufficient mechanism to ensure full implementation of the Vishaka guidelines if the alleged harasser is found guilty, the complainant should not be forced to work with/under such harasser and where appropriate and possible the alleged harasser should be transferred harassment and intimidation of witnesses and the complainants shall be met with severe disciplinary action

 Bar Council of India shall ensure that all bar associations in the country and persons registered with the State Bar Councils follow the Vishaka guidelines

 Similarly, Medical Council of India, Council of Architecture, Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Company Secretaries and other statutory Institutes shall ensure that the organizations, bodies, associations

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