Seoni, MP | A Facebook post by a trainee Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer describing her travails of filing sexual harassment case and the ‘treatment’ meted out to her in courtroom has snowballed into a controversy.
‘I can only pray that no woman is born in this country,’ said Riju Bafna, in a Facebook post on Saturday. Soon the post went viral. On Monday, she toned down her comment saying, ‘I wrote that line in the spur of moment and I regret blaming the country for the fault of individuals.’
‘To reiterate once again, the issue is not just about me but the general lack of women friendly procedure in such cases. The legislature has provided mandatory in camera proceedings for rape cases; however, there is a need to extend the same to other sexual offences too,’ she commented on Facebook again today.
Last week, Ms Bafna had filed a sexual harassment case against Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission member Santosh Choubey for allegedly sending her obscene messages. District Collector Bharat Yadav took immediate action and removed Choubey from his post.
On Saturday, she went to record her statement before the Judicial Magistrate. She requested that lawyer Lalit Sharma and several others present leave the courtroom, as she was uncomfortable giving her statement in front of so many people.
The advocate, however, allegedly shouted at her, saying how dare you suggest me to leave, I am an advocate here and you might be an officer in your office but not in the Court.
Ms Bafna said when she tried to explain the reason for her discomfort to the magistrate, he told her that she was having high expectations as she was young. She would get to know the system and courts with time and would not come up with such demands. The trainee IAS officer said that she has also filed a representation in the matter to concerned authorities.
Advocate Lalit Sharma, meanwhile, claimed that statements were not being recorded at the time but the woman IAS officer, allegedly trying to assert her authority, demanded that he leave the room. He said he left the courtroom as soon as he learnt that she was present to record her statement in a sexual harassment case.
However, Collector Bharat Yadav said necessary guidelines were not followed while recording Ms Bafna’s statement. He said he would send a letter to the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the Bar Association over the matter so that similar incidents were not repeated while recording statements of women.
In her latest post, Ms Bafna said the District Collector and the District Judge are taking action to ensure that such incidents were not repeated.
‘There is a lot of support from the highest levels of Madhya Pradesh Government and the expressions of support and guidance I have received has re-ignited my confidence in the ability of the system to listen to voices and correct itself,’ she noted.
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