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The Maharashtra government advisory to the police on Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code make a mockery of democracy itself. Here is a translation of the five preconditions it has issued.

  1. Verbal or written, words, gestures or images or other content that expresses hate or contempt or dislike, insult or discontent or enmity or treachery or disloyalty towards the state or central governments in a manner that provokes violence or discontent.
  2. Written, verbal, gesture/signs or other communication that suggest that these politicians or public servants are representatives of state
  3. Criticism that intends to create change through legal means and that doesn't demean or create dislike for the government should not be prosecuted under this section.
  4. Only obscenity or indecency should not be applied with this section.
  5. Before this section is applied, opinion of Zilla officials should be obtained. Within two weeks, the the public prosecutor should be consulted.

This advisory has naturally generated significant outrage. The document being in Marathi has prevented many legal commentators who don't understand the language from commenting, while BJP supporters are attempting to discredit the outrage as false by emphasizing the third point and pretending that that is all the advisory contains.

I am not a lawyer, but my reactions.

  1. The vagueness of the parameters identifying sedition rival the notorious IT Rules. Similar to them, pretty much anything that reflects badly on the government could be described by such sweeping descriptors. Irritate normal people, get takedown notices was the UPA2 gift, irritate the government and get booked for sedition seems to be the summary of this point - it covers dislike - you don't even need to read the rest! Disliking a government could get you arrested? How about a government serving people as promised and not being disliked? Something like asking for your promised 15 lakh could now go beyond not just getting your promised riches, but also landing in jail for asking for it, because hey, people would be discontented because of this, right?
  2. This basically amounts to the words/signs being against government representatives.
  3. This seems very magnanimous of them with all the nice promotion by organized trolls, but the fact is that it is rather sinister that legal process to address problems gets covered under a law for sedition to begin with, and then you actually don't have a categoric endorsement of your right to engage the system, you have it as long as you don't demean the government or create dislike for it. It is actually taking a right you had without restrictions, magnanimously handing it back to you with restrictions, and then promoting the hell out of it because they gave it back at all.
  4. This is actually the real "magnanimous point". How generous the government is being, upholding your right to not be prosecuted for sedition over obscenity or indecency. Waitaminit, HOW in the big fat world would either of them be sedition to begin with that their not being has any meaning at all? I doubt that even the sexually repressed Hindutva brigade can anticipate an epidemic of indecency large enough to be a threat to the nation. This is a talking point basically to show that the advisory had a larger aim than creating a set up for people to be arrested and prosecuted for a crime against their motherland for pissing the government off. This point, not having any real stake could even be happily conceded to critics in a compromise.
  5. Nothing much to comment here. Procedural sho-sha. Let us not even pretend either entity cannot be managed to target whoever the government wants to put six feet under.

In my view, a document that advises punishing people for disliking their government or being discontented has no place in a democracy.

There seems to be an organized effort to present this draconian advisory as a requirement emerging from the Aseem Trivedi case. This is a flat out falsehood. This advisory contradicts the High Court guidelines, and as pointed out by Saurav Datta on Twitter, invites contempt of court.

5

This article is second in a part of a three article series on Eve Teasing by Fazal Ahmad. The first part outlined the description and impact of eve teasing. The second looks at Eve Teasing under Civil Law.

We now look at Eve Teasing punishment in India in Criminal Laws

Very fairly speaking that in the Indian Penal Code, the word ‘eve-teasing’ does not exist. Eve teasing is an attitude, a mindset, a set of behaviours that is construed as an insult and an act of humiliation of the female sex. However, victims of eve teasing could take recourse to certain sections of the IPC.

The non-penetration sexual assault, under the section 354 of the Penal Code, is punishable with a maximum term of two years imprisonment of either description, or with fine, or with both.
eve teasing

Section 354. Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty

Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Punishment—Imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both—Cogniza¬ble—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Non-compoundable.

Section 509- Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman- whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

III. Section 294- Obscene acts and songs Whoever , to the annoyance of others-

a) Does any obscene act in any public place, or

b) Sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place,

shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, with fine , or with both.

Being very fair to my readers of this Blog I as a lawyer should clarify that these sections make gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman or acts intrude upon her privacy a, crime, but it is very difficult to exploit these provisions to deal with various expressions of sexual harassment. Eve Teasing punishment in India under provisions of these sections of law and the procedural laws are complex and the type of proof that is required make it very difficult to get the culprit punished.

Conclusion

Eveteasing is a wrong against the honour, dignity and self respect of a woman. It hurts her at the core of soul.We need a strong combating for this fast growing problem.

So, I strongly recommend a strong and tough law either in civil or criminal, for the strong punishment of the Eve teasers.

I would also to say country like India where we are worshipping the woman like Gods, the behaviour is morally unjust. We should learn to respect woman and the Class starts at Home.

~ Fazal Ahmad

Follow him on Twitter @fzlsammy

Update: Since this article was written, there have been efforts to get more stringent laws passed after the Delhi Gang Rape case in which a medical student was brutally gang raped and fatally injured. This is a work in progress for India.

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Fighting Eve-teasing: rights and remedy

Nature has given women so much power that the Law has given them very little. Samuel Johnson

The Term Eve Teasing used to refer to sexual harassment of women in public places such as streets, public, transportation, park and many places of social meetings. This type of public harassment by a man or a gang on women such as verbal assault as showing obscene gestures, winking, whistling and staring and also the physical assault such as pinching or rubbing against women in public places. It also includes many more things which have the definition under preview of word obscene or violence.

Women are often criticised for 'inviting' molesters by way of their 'seductive' way of dress and make-up. But this theory collapses in the face of rustic, illiterate and poor village women who cannot afford to dress seductively. What does 'seductive' dressing mean? Who decides what is 'seductive' dressing and what is not?

Another myth says that girls ought not to step out after dark and if they have gone out, they ought to come home before it is too dark. It is implied that the victims are perhaps to blame for men teasing, stalking and molesting them; this thinking is itself rooted in patriarchy. So, from childhood, parents bring up their sons and daughters by two completely different rules of censorship on their movements outside the house – geographically and in terms of time – one set of rules for boys and one set of rules for girls. The same 'logic' applies in mixed sex schools in India. Violence thrives in the victim's acceptance of the victimiser's moral right, social superiority and physical power.

Eve-teasing has been a notoriously difficult crime to prove, as perpetrators often devise ingenious ways to attack women, even though many feminist writers term it as “little rapes” and usually occur in public places, streets, and public transport.

Eve Teasing – Why?

Many psychologists believe that sex, love or fun is not the only motive that men indulge in this behaviour. Eve teasing is closely related to the patriarchal mindset of the Indian male. Men are raised to believe that they are more powerful physically and emotionally than women. They feel that they are doing nothing wrong just having some fun. Women on the other hand are made to feel vulnerable and the weaker sex.

Teachers of psychology and social scientists believe eve teasing to be a result of the frustrations suffered by a majority of youth. Disappointed by the unbecoming attitude of teachers and indifferent parents , they yearn for an outlet to vent their aggression and depression .Besides , many who do not inherit good values tend to indulge in acts of sexual harassment.

Eve teasing can be seen as a rite of passage for boys on their way to becoming men. Considering that sex is not the only motive, it would be reasonable to conclude that the psychodynamics of eve teasing are closely linked to the issue of masculinity and the masculine agenda.

Let Us Now Examine Eve Teasing in the Eyes of Law

The Question arise here is whether it falls under Civil wrong or criminal wrong?

To understand laws about Eve Teasing continue reading about Eve Teasing under Civil Law and Eve Teasing under Criminal Law

~ Fazal Ahmad

Follow him on Twitter @fzlsammy