The constitution of India recognizes men and women in our country as equal. However, even after so many years of independence, women are predominantly subject to bias and gender inequality. First, a large number of women are ignorant about their rights and second, the society has not been able to accept the fact that both men and women are equal in the eyes of law. The law further states that the violation of any of the legal rights of a woman is strictly punishable.
In this article, we shall discuss some of these legal rights of an Indian woman and the legal consequences of not complying with them:
- The Zero FIR ruling
The Zero FIR ruling of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India gives a female victim in India the right to file an FIR in any police station, irrespective of where an incident has occurred. It further allows a woman or minor to obtain a bail on weekends. The law has made the flexibility to the judge’s to hear bail proceedings at their residence even on Saturdays and Sundays. Therefore, once an FIR has been registered and all filing with the magistrate is done, the file can be transferred to the police station under whose jurisdiction the case actually falls. The primary objective of implementing the ruling was to start the proceeding without wasting time and the impact it would have on the victim and barring the offender from moving freely.
- Right to Virtual Complaints
When an women in unable to visit a police station physically to lodge a complaint, the law gives her the option to file the complaint virtually via email or in writing and send the complaint to a police station. However, the victim needs to provide a registered postal address from where it was sent. On receiving the virtual complaint, the Station House Officer or SHO sends a police team to record the statement of the woman.
- Protection against interrogation at Police Station
Section 160 of IPC prohibits the police from calling a woman at a police station for any interrogation. A woman can be interrogated by the police at her residence. The interrogation can be done only in the presence of her family members or friends and a female constable. The section further prohibits the detention of a woman in a police station without a valid legal permission.
- Protection against Stalking
Stalking is an offensive act in the eyes of the law. If anyone follows a woman or tries to have personal interaction with her again and again physically or through email or through any other media, in spite of clear refusal from her, or monitors her activities and movement on the internet or any form of social-media, it constitutes stalking.
- Protection from Cruelty & Domestic Violence
If the husband of a woman or any of his relatives subjects a married woman to cruelty, they are liable to be punished as per Section 498 of IPC. The punishment may be in the form of imprisonment for up to 3 years along with penalty or fine. Taking into account the safety and security of women, the offence is non-bailable in nature. It’s not just physical abuse that constitutes domestic violence. Emotional, sexual, financial or verbal abuse also falls under it.
- Right to protection against Sexual Harassment
The Indian Penal Code is very stringent against sexual harassment, be it passing lewd comments on the bus-stop or demanding sexual favors at work-place or making unwanted physical contact in spite of clear refusal from a woman. When there is a sexual harassment at workplace, as per the historic Vishakha Guidelines, law requires the completion of all enquires within 90 days of complaint. The various punishments in the form of imprisonment and fine depend on the nature of harassment.