#MeToo in India: SC declines urgent hearing of PIL seeking filing of FIRs, says cases will be heard in regular course

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to urgently hear the petition of a lawyer, ML Sharma, seeking the registration of FIRs based on allegations of sexual misconduct and assault levelled by women across various sectors in the #MeToo movement.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul told Sharma that it will come up for hearing in the regular course.

Besides FIRs, the petition also seeks a direction to the National Commission for Women (NCW) to give security and assistance to women who have come out in the open with their allegations.

With the increasing list of alleged perpetrators, the #MeToo movement has taken India by storm. The movement in India began with actor Tanushree Dutta accusing veteran actor Nana Patekar of harassing her during the shooting of a film in 2008. Since then, scores of women have come out to speak about their ordeals on social media, including actors, musicians, journalists, and politicians.

The NCW has urged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to direct print, publication and production houses to form an internal committee to probe complaints of sexual harassment at workplace.

An NCW official said that in the past few days, the women rights body has received a number of complaints of sexual harassment at workplace against persons in both traditional print organisations as well as digital media.

"We have informed the secretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that the NCW has received a number of such complaints," the official said. He said the NCW has requested the secretary to issue directions to ensure that organisations such as printing, publishing, production houses involved in TV and film production put in place an effective mechanism for addressing such complaints including constituting Internal Committees in terms of the PoSH Act, 2013, she said.

The NCW said perpetrators of such crimes need to be punished as per law.  The NCW had recently said it had received written complaints from various women about sexual harassment at their workplace. The commission had also created a dedicated email ID to receive such complaints and urged women who have come forward on social media and other platforms about their alleged harassers to send their formal written complaints to ncw.metoo@gmail.com.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has asked the NCW to expeditiously probe all complaints of sexual harassment received under the #MeToo movement.

In the last few weeks, a number of journalists revealed through social media, the details of their harassment at the workplace. Journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar had to resign as the minister of state for external affairs on Wednesday following a spate of complaints by his former woman colleagues that he allegedly harassed them during his tenure as editor of various media publications.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 22, 2018 16:36:43 IST