SC hauls up petitioner alleging sexual harassment by woman in courtroom

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday admonished a PIL petitioner for alleging sexual harassment by a woman describing his conduct being both insensible and insensitive to the process of adjudication and dignity of women.

Deriding the content of the application by Sabu Stephen, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy said the applicant has “crossed all sense of propriety, restraint, decorum and, in fact, demonstrated brazen sense of insensibility and insensitivity to the process of adjudication and dignity for women”.

The applicant had alleged sexual harassment by a woman in the courtroom during one of the hearings in a case relating to dog culling in Kerala.

Telling the applicant that he was not a public-spirited person who was fighting for a cause but a nuisance, the bench said: “When a public-spirited person advocates for a cause which he feels is a public cause and this Court entertains the PIL, more additional responsibility has to be cultivated by the petitioner.”

“When we say responsibility, we mean responsibility to conduct the litigation and also to have a sustained effort to learn how to conduct in Court,” the court said in its order, elaborating on the conduct expected of a PIL petitioner.

The court said that when the petitioner’s PIL was entertained and he was permitted to argue in person, “he should have understood that this Court had appreciated his concern for the lis, but by filing the present interlocutory application, it seems that he has thrown the initial decorum that allowed him to address the Court to the winds”.

Observing that the PIL petitioner should have been advised that “such kind of allegations are not made in an application which has nothing to do with the subject matter of the lis”, the court said: “It is also discernible that the allegations made are scandalous, unwarranted, indecent and absolutely uncalled for.”

The court “cautioned and warned” the petitioner to “conduct himself appropriately and restrain from making any slightest effort” to file such applications before this Court or any court relating to this incident.

“If he has a cause, he should stand up for the cause and not deviate,” the court told the PIL petitioner.

Noting the suggestion by senior counsel present in the court room, including by SCBA President Dushyant Dave, that while dismissing the application, the court should also expunge all the allegations against the lady, the court said: “We appreciate the suggestion and we unequivocally issue a direction for expunging the allegations which even remotely touch the reputation and dignity of the lady.”

Asking the media to only publish its order, the court directed that “neither the electronic media nor the print media shall publish anything that will relate to identity of the lady or any remark in the interlocutory application as that stands expunged by this Court”.

“They (media) are at liberty to publish the order passed today as that is an order of the Court,” the court said.

Restraining Stephen from circulating the copy of his application in any manner whatsoever or speaking about it or publishing it either directly or indirectly, the court said: “Any activity of this nature would amount to contempt of this Court and we repeat, if such an event takes place, the person concerned will invite the wrath of law and the consequences of the same may be quite disastrous for him.”