The Delhi High Court on Wednesday rejected a public interest litigation that demanded that the Centre and National Commission for Women take suo motu notice of sexual harassment and assault complaints on social media, PTI reported. Petitioner and advocate Joginder Kumar Sukhija said several women had taken to sharing their experiences on social media as part of the #MeToo movement.
Since October 5, numerous women across sectors – including the Hindi and Tamil film industries, the fields of art, music and dance, advertising, publishing, journalism, sports and even non-profit organisations – have shared on social media detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they faced. Bharatiya Janata Party leader and veteran editor MJ Akbar resigned as Union minister of state for external affairs earlier this month after 17 women journalists accused him of sexual harassment.
Sukhija claimed that the National Commission for Women had “failed” to perform its duty of following up on such matters.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao said, “We are not inclined to entertain it. Please don’t waste our time. Let the affected individual come. Dismissed.”
The Centre on October 24 announced that it has formed a group of ministers to examine and strengthen “the existing legal and institutional frameworks for dealing with matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace”. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will head the group and its other members are Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.
On October 12, the Ministry of Women and Child Development had said it will set up a committee to look into matters arising from the #MeToo campaign. On October 10, the National Commission for Women had said it was reaching out and offering help to women who have written about sexual harassment they faced at the workplace. The commission noted that many women did not want to go “beyond naming and shaming” the alleged perpetrators, and urged them to file complaints with the authorities concerned.