Gender Equality Watch- December 2017

 

                    Gender Equality Watch

This monthly series by Safecity will track the latest decisions of Indian courts on women’s rights and equal access for all genders. The aim is to make the functioning of our judicial system more accessible to readers, to create a well-informed body of public opinion, and to ensure that we know our rights.

                                                                                                                                by Rohit Agarwal*

                                   December 2017

  1.   Kerala High Court: Suspension of teens from private school for hugging in front of teachers upheld by the court.

Date: 12/12/2017

Coram: Shaji P. Chaly, J.

Facts: Two students, a boy, and a girl who were studying in St Thomas Central Schoo were suspended on the recommendation of the disciplinary committee of the school. It was alleged that the boy hugged a girl student in front of teachers and other students in the school. Certain photographs of the boy and girl also appeared on Instagram, in which they were allegedly seen in compromising positions. According to the school authorities, these things affected the morale of the students and the school’s reputation. The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights intervened in the matter and directed the school to permit the boy to attend the class and continue his education. The school challenged this order before the Kerala High Court.

What the Court said: Justice Shaji P Chaly, who heard the plea and perused the photographs before observing, “I find that various photographs were posted in the Instagram in various compromising positions and if it had the effect of publicity, the issue definitely hampers the reputation of the school. There can be no doubt that such incidents can disturb parents and the students of the school and even the public at large.” The Court limited the authority of the jurisdiction of the Child’s Rights Commission and said that the School had the requisite power to come to such a decision. He asked the school to take a balanced approach considering that the boy was in standard XII and was due to face his board examinations.

2. Madhya Pradesh High Court: Rape survivor allowed to terminate pregnancy resulting from the act of rape.

Date: 06/12/2017

Coram: Sujoy Paul, J.

Facts: The Petitioner is the minor’s father, who was the victim of a rape-induced pregnancy. The Petitioner sought to move the Court to allow the minor to terminate the pregnancy with the consent of her guardian, who was the Petitioner himself. He contended that if such pregnancy will be forced upon the victim, her rights under the article 21 of the Constitution in relation to her “Personal Liberty” will be violated.

What the Court said: Considering the seriousness and urgency of this matter, this petition is disposed of with following directions:

  • The victim is a minor and; therefore, if petitioner gives consent for terminating the pregnancy of victim, there shall be no need to obtain the willingness of the victim;
  • The victim/guardian has a valuable right to take a decision regarding termination of pregnancy and such right is flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution;
  • A victim of rape cannot be compelled to give birth to a child of the rapist. Thus, if conditions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 are fulfilled, the pregnancy of victim can be terminated;
  • The respondents shall constitute a Committee of three registered medical practitioners as per the Act of 1971 and such Committee/practitioners shall form an opinion in good faith relating to termination of pregnancy of the victim. Needless to mention that Committee has to form its opinion as per the mandate of Act of 1971. The Committee shall be constituted within 24 hours from the date of receipt of this order and shall examine the victim within 24 hours therefrom. Needless to emphasize that in the event of difference of opinion amongst medical practitioners, the majority view will prevail;
  • The Court noted that the act of terminating the pregnancy would not constitute a crime under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, if the following conditions are satisfied:
  1. The gestation period or length of the pregnancy is not more than 20 weeks; and
  2. Two registered medical practitioners certify that continuing with the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.
  • If the Committee comes to the conclusion that pregnancy of the victim can be terminated in consonance with Section 3 or Section 5 of the 1971 Act, the respondents shall undertake the exercise of terminating such pregnancy.
  1. Madhya Pradesh High Court: Madhya Pradesh HC issues directions to ensure women employees get childcare leave.

Date: 01/12/2017

Coram: Subodh Abhyankar, J.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Chief Secretary of the state government to issue directions to all concerned to ensure that women employees get child care leave. The court took a tough view on a petition filed by a woman employee seeking direction to the authorities to grant her childcare leave.

What the Court said: Issuing directives to the Chief Secretary of the state government, the court observed, “filing of such petitions may be stopped, and the concerned employee may be saved from incurring unnecessary expenses”.

Justice Subodh Abhyankar observed: “Time again, such petitions regarding child care leave are being filed by the concerned employees on their own expenses despite the fact that this court has already decided the issues in various writ petitions.” The court directed the Chief Secretary to file the compliance report in this regard within four weeks from the date of receipt of the certified copy of the order

4. Supreme Court of India: SC Tells Centre To Get Portal For Filing Complaints On Child Sexual Abuse, Related Crimes Ready By Jan 10, 2018.

Date: 11/12/2017

Coram: Madan B. Lokur, Uday Umesh Lalit, JJ.

Order: The Supreme Court has asked the Union of India to have its portal for complaint redressal relating to matters of child sexual abuse, child pornography and rape/ gang rape videos, ready on or before January 10, 2018.

After hearing the submission on behalf of the Union of India that standard operating procedures are being prepared for use of the portal, the bench observed: “The matter has been pending for quite some time and we find from the affidavit filed by the CBI on 08.10.2015 that steps are being taken to enable complaints being filed through a portal. It is high time that the Union of India gets the portal ready and available to the public at large.”

 

 

**Rohit Agarwal is a law student from Mumbai.

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