One is compelled to think and constrained to deliberate why the women in this country cannot be allowed to live in peace and lead a life that is empowered with a dignity and freedom.
Supreme Court of India on Friday observed that a woman has her own space as a man has in our society.
“One is compelled to think and constrained to deliberate why the women in this country cannot be allowed to live in peace and lead a life that is empowered with a dignity and freedom. It has to be kept in mind that she has a right to life and entitled to love according to her choice. She has an individual choice which has been legally recognized. It has to be socially respected. No one can compel a woman to love. She has the absolute right to reject”, said the Supreme Court.
A three Judge Bench of Justices Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar was considering an appeal filed by Accused against his conviction for abetment to suicide of a girl because of his continuous harassment and eve teasing.
The Bench observed that eve-teasing, as stated by SC in Deputy Inspector General of Police and another v. S. Samuthiram, has become a pernicious, horrid and disgusting practice.
“We are at pains to state that in a civilized society eve-teasing is causing harassment to women in educational institutions, public places, parks, railways stations and other public places which only go to show that requisite sense of respect for women has not been socially cultivated”.
Justice Dipak Misra also observed that woman enjoys as much equality under Article 14 of the Constitution as a man does. The right to live with dignity as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution cannot be violated by indulging in obnoxious act of eve-teasing. It affects the fundamental concept of gender sensitivity and justice and the rights of a woman under Article 14 of the Constitution.
Justice Misra also observed that it has to be kept in mind that she has a right to life and entitled to love according to her choice.
“She has an individual choice which has been legally recognized. It has to be socially respected. No one can compel a woman to love. She has the absolute right to reject”.
The Court also observed that in a civilized society male chauvinism has no room.
“The Constitution of India confers the affirmative rights on women and the said rights are perceptible from Article 15 of the Constitution. When the right is conferred under the Constitution, it has to be understood that there is no condescendation”
The Bench also observed that a man should not put his ego or, for that matter, masculinity on a pedestal and abandon the concept of civility.
“Egoism must succumb to law. Equality has to be regarded as the summum bonum of the constitutional principle in this context. The instant case portrays the deplorable depravity of the appellant that has led to a heart breaking situation for a young girl who has been compelled to put an end to her life”, said the Bench.
The Bench has confirmed the High Court Judgment convicting the accused and sentencing him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for seven years and to pay fine of Rs. 10,000/- and in default of payment of fine, to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year.
Read the Judgment here.