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Delhi HC applauds young woman for taking stand against lewd comments

The Delhi high court on Tuesday applauded a young woman for standing up to the man who abused her at a traffic signal.

“We appreciate the girl for taking steps. We are glad that now girls are coming forward to complain about such harassment cases,” said a division bench of Justice Kailash Gambhir and Justice Sunita Gupta.

“It is only two days back an incident had taken place where the girl complained about the lewd remarks made on her by the passerby. It is the mindset of people... that is why the court thought the mindset of people can be changed by launching mass awareness programme but despite various directions given by this court, success is not seen in near future.”

“This is very sorry state of affairs that in the capital of the country, the women are not safe and this is what we find out when we go through the daily newspapers. Unless the governments are serious at their ends nothing can improve in the country,” the bench said.

Delhi University student Jasleen Kaur was abused at a traffic signal in Tilak Nagar area in west Delhi around 8 p.m. on Sunday.

In her complaint, the woman told police that she was confronted by accused Saravjeet Singh alias Sunny at a traffic intersection, where he allegedly passed lewd remarks at her, while the people around chose to be mute spectators.

The woman took a photograph of the number plate of Singh’s motorbike and when she was about to take a photograph of the accused, he allegedly posed for it despite being told that she would report the matter to police.

He later sped away, said a police official. The court also expressed displeasure at the Delhi government for moving at a snail’s pace on implementing rape preventive measures such as awareness campaigns and gender sensitisation programmes.

During the hearing, the court took into note the affidavits filed by the Delhi government on the steps it took to create mass awareness among people on crimes against women and children and punishment awarded for these incidents.

The court, however, was not satisfied with the steps taken by the government and said: “On the perusal of these affidavits no doubt government of Delhi has taken some action in creating mass awareness in sexual offences cases against women and children, but we are extremely pained to find that the programme is very tardy and slow.”

To test the efficiency of 181 women helpline, the court asked one of the lawyers in the case to dial the number but it remained busy for five minutes and was picked up on the third try.

“The number remained busy more than one than 5 minutes and was picked up after two calls were made. The fate of the helpline is as we have noticed, we can’t understand how any women or child in distress access this helpline,” the bench said.

The government said helpline will be “strengthened soon in professional manner”.

The counsel of the Delhi government, senior advocate Sanjay Poddar told the court that there are only three lines for incoming calls and they would “improve” it soon and for this purpose approval had been taken from finance department of Delhi government.

The bench asked why it can’t repeatedly issue radio and print campaigns for deterring sexual offences, to which Delhi government said they were “forced” to pull out programmes, including jingles on radio, on creating awareness about such crimes as after sometime people get bored with them and do not hear them.

The government also played in court the radio jingles and videos on domestic violence, sexual harassment at work place and sexual harassment of children, which is part of its awareness programme.

The bench had in December 2013 urged the government to take effective steps to raise awareness among the people about laws dealing with sexual offences and the punishment.

The court asked both Centre and Delhi governments to work together to create mass awareness on the issue.

“This is the duty of both the governments and their ministries to sensitise the people with their serious endeavour that such crimes happening day in and day out do not occur.

Expressing the hope that the governments will make “serious endeavour” for creating mass awareness about crimes against women and children and for safety of women, Justice Kailash Gambhir, who will be retiring in the first week of September, disposed off the plea.

The court also refused to waive off the Rs. 2 lakh fine imposed on the Delhi government earlier for its failure to take effective steps on the issue and directed it to deposit the amount with the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DLSA) within a month.

The court had taken up the issue of creating awareness about sexual offences against children and women while hearing an appeal filed by a man convicted for raping his minor daughter.

The court had observed that the reason for the increase in such cases was because people were unaware of the law and did not fear any legal action.

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