In a major ruling in favour of thousands of women travelling in Delhi’s buses, the Delhi High Court Friday called for an end to the ‘venomous practice’ of ‘eve teasing’ and told the state-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) to take steps to ensure the safety of female passengers.
Justice Kailash Gambhir directed the DTC to file an affidavit spelling out the steps taken by the transport authority and what mechanism they propose to have in place to ensure complete safety of women in DTC and other buses.
Citing how harassment of women go unreported, the court said: ‘The immeasurable damage that eve teasing does to a woman’s self esteem and the subsequent avoidance of public places by single women could hardly take us on the way to achieving gender equality.’
‘Even today one cannot ignore the reality that an overwhelming majority of women in Delhi do not feel safe. One does not need hard hitting statistics to prove this, but a daily scan of the newspapers would give a reality check as to how a women face violence in the city on roads, buses or at market places,’ the court said while hearing an appeal of DTC challenging a labour court’s order of cancelling the termination of a conductor and driver, accused of harassment.
The court directed DTC to file a compliance report by April 7.
‘It is common knowledge that most of the women rely on public transport, especially buses, for day to day travel due to their vast reach. It is often seen that the females feel threatened not only from anti-social and gross elements travelling in the bus but equally from persons manning the bus. The drivers and conductors who are supposed to act as saviours of the passengers are often found themselves indulging in acts of indecency if they get such an opportunity of finding lone female passengers in the bus,’ the court said while upholding the DTC order of terminating the services of the conductor and driver following a case of eve teasing in their bus in 1993.
Criticising the role of the driver and conductor in the present case, the court said, ‘The case exemplifies the irresponsible and pathetic behaviour of the employees of the public transport department. Had the driver immediately applied the brakes and halted the bus, the entire gruesome situation could have been avoided. Both the conductor and the driver not only failed in their duty, but were hand in glove with the boys who were indulging in behaving indecently with the female passengers.’
Stressing the need of sensitisation of public transport staff, the court said, ‘The only remedy to eradicate this venomous practice is to have an informed and sensitive citizenry. The drivers and conductors should be sensitized towards issues relating to gender violence and women security on regular basis.’