The Bombay high court on Friday suggested a baby step to making the streets safer for women. It directed the Maharashtra government to make the offence of molestation non-bailable instead of waiting for Parliament to make amendments to the law.
“Maharashtra is a progressive state and it should consider amending laws related to molestation of women and ensure [that] the offence is made non-bailable without waiting for Parliament to do it,” said a division bench comprising chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Anoop Mohta while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Help Mumbai Foundation.
The organisation had sought amendments in sections 354, 506 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code , which deal with molestation and criminal intimidation, and the Criminal Procedure Code, as well as ensuring better law enforcement to give women in Mumbai a sense of security.
Pointing out that there is already such a precedence, the court said, “The state of Tamil Nadu has made amendments in the law on eve-teasing; Maharashtra can do it too.”
“There has to be a law; offenders need to be arrested and only then will they be deterred. Merely deploying policemen on the roads won’t resolve the issue. At present, offenders are released on a small bail; this makes them carefree.”
The HC posted the next hearing for January 17.