The Supreme Court Monday dismissed two petitions seeking registration of FIRs and prosecution of those accused of sexual misconduct and assault by women during the #MeToo movement in the country.
It made clear that the issues "would be considered by the court in the event an aggrieved person moves" court.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph dismissed two separate PILs filed by advocate M L Sharma and Mahesh Kumar Tiwari on the issue of sexual misconduct and assault on women, who have now come out in open and named the accused.
At the outset, the bench questioned the locus of Mr Sharma and said it can understand if a victim moves the court with her grievances and asserted it cannot entertain a PIL.
"Why 32 (under Article 32, a PIL can straightaway be filed in the Supreme Court)," the bench asked.
"Heard the petitioner appearing in-person and perused the relevant material. The issues highlighted would be considered by the court in the event an aggrieved person moves the court. The writ petition is, therefore, not entertained on the aforesaid ground. The same is, accordingly, dismissed," it noted in the order.
Mr Sharma's plea, which had made National Commission for Women and the Home Affairs Ministry parties, urged the apex court to take "suo motu" (on its own) action and order registration of FIRs on the basis of statements made by the victim on social media.
It had also sought prosecution of men, whose names have been called out during the movement, under relevant penal provisions dealing with offences of sexual assault, misconduct and rape.
Mr Sharma, in his petition had also sought a direction to the MHA for not interfering with the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provisions and had said that such cases should be left to criminal courts.
"Issue direction to the respondent no 2 (MHA) to set up fast-track trial courts for conducting trial of the all sexual harassment cases to provide justice in a time-bound manner in the interest of justice," the plea had said.
The plea had also sought protection and legal and financial aid for the women.