The Delhi High Court has directed the central government to “expeditiously” look into the demand for creating guidelines for conduct of public servants towards women outside workplace.
Taking note of the fact that the service rules for public servants did not specify the prescribed conduct outside workplace, the court of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice R S Endlaw asked the government to “examine the provisions expeditiously”.
The orders were issued on a PIL filed by AIDWA vice-president Sudha Sundarraman and the Sushila Gopalan Trust against CBI director Ranjit Sinha and the Home Ministry, for his remarks made in November, in which he appeared to have compared betting in sports to rape.
Beside seeking suspension of Sinha for his remarks, the PIL pleaded for a code of conduct for public officials vis a vis women and crimes against women. “The court should issue guidelines for a code of conduct which lays down the manner in which public servants should or should not represent, portray or comment upon women and/or their character,” said the plea.
Giving examples of remarks made by the Andhra Pradesh DGP on women’s clothing in 2011, and the comments made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding the Park Street rape case in 2013, the PIL said that “such unabashed and vivid professions of misogynistic beliefs” by public figures would “undermine public trust and faith in the public institutions”.
The PIL has also alleged the remarks made by the CBI director were in violation of the All India Services Conduct Rules of 1968, as it was conduct which is “unbecoming of an officer of his rank and profile”.
The government, however, said that it may be difficult to specify a code of conduct. “This petition is politically motivated,” said Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra, who had appeared on behalf of the CBI director. The court, however, expressed concern saying, “People in high places must be restrained. Suppose outside of workplace something happens then what will you do?”. It then directed the government to examine the provisions.