Taking serious note of the spate of rape and molestation cases, the Bombay High Court on Friday 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.
"Why should you wait for 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. The court 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," 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.
According to the NGO, 97 per cent females above the age of 15 have faced 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 say what steps it has taken pursuant to directions assed by the Supreme Court on November 3, 2012 to all state governments regarding eve teasing. It asked the government to submit the recommendations made by the C S Dharmadhikari committee regarding women safety issues.
The matter will be heard next on January 17.