No one can compel a woman to love, says Supreme Court

The court said, “A woman has her own space as a man has. She enjoys as much equality under Article 14 of the Constitution as a man does.\"

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday strongly deprecated the evil menace of eve teasing and said male chauvinism has no room in this country.

Slapping a seven-year sentence on an accused for the offence of eve teasing, a three judge bench of Justices Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and M.M. Shanatanagouder said, “In a civilised 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 (prohibition against discrimination) of the Constitution.”

Writing the judgment Justice Misra said, “When the right is conferred under the Constitution, it has to be understood that there is no condescension. A man should not put his ego or, for that matter, masculinity on a pedestal and abandon the concept of civility.”

The court said, “A woman has her own space as a man has. She 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 (equality) of the Constitution.”

The apex court wondered 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 recognised. No one can compel a woman to love. She has the absolute right to reject. The present case eminently projects a case of psychological harassment. 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.

The Bench said 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 Pawan Kumar that has led to a heart breaking situation for a young girl who has been compelled to kill herself. It upheld seven years RI imposed on Kumar whose constant eve teasing led to the victim Shalu, committing suicide in Chandigarh.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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