Horror episode of MP woman officer casts shadow on independent India

Young IAS officer takes on the people manning the criminal justice system and its insensitiveness

GN Staff | August 4, 2015


#ias   #Madhya Pradesh   #independence day   #facebook   #riju bafna   #magistrate   #advocate  

As India celebrates Independence day next week, the distance that we need to travel to make our independence worthwhile seems huge and daunting. The chronicles of a young officials speaks horrors of the system that exists in the corners of India, and questions the meaning of independent India.

Chhattisgarh cadre’s young IAS officer Riju Bafna has been recording for the posterity her brush with the official machinery that holds India and supposed to enforce rule of law in the country.

Within hours of her Facebook post "I can only pray that no woman is born in this country," went viral, the young woman officer took on the people manning the criminal justice system in the country and bared its insensitiveness.

"In my previous post, there was a line about women not being born in the country. I wrote that line in the spur of moment and I regret blaming the country for the fault of individuals. Indeed, I had edited the FB post later," IAS officer Riju Bafna said in her Facebook post.

She reiterated her faith in the institutions while explaining the humiliation at a court in Seoni in Madhya Pradesh.

Riju Bafna said she had appeared before the court of a judicial magistrate on August 1 to record her statement for in connection with an FIR registered against by her against a person named Santosh Chaubey.

"Santosh Chaubey was harassing me by sending indecent messages. I reported that to Bharat Yadav, Collector & DM, Seoni. He immediately wrote about this harassment to MPHRC and Santosh Chaubey was vacated from official responsibilities with immediate effect", she said.

"As a young woman facing the court for the first time in a sensitive matter of sexual harassment, I realized why women do not want to come out in the open and report sexual harassment cases. The entire experience was horrible and traumatic", the IAS officer’s FB post said.

"On reaching the Court, I requested the Judicial Magistrate to kindly allow me in camera recording of statement. Even before the Court had decided on my request, an advocate, who happened to be standing there, started screaming at me as to how dare I make such a request. He started using very rude language and said that I might be an IAS officer in my office but this was his Court and he was not leaving."

“I requested him to allow me some privacy, which I sought not as an IAS officer, but as a woman reliving the horrible experience of sexual harassment. This lawyer was not even a party to the case but just a bystander and he still did not allow me my privacy and kept arguing and using rude language."

According to her the magistrate remained silent even though the incident took place inside the court room. “He never decided on whether I could be allowed in camera proceeding. He was a spectator to the abuse I had to face for asserting my dignity and privacy.”

"Worse, when I finally recorded my statement, he remarked that I was a young, new recruit on first posting, which was why I had these expectations of privacy and that I would get to know the system and Courts with time and get done away with such demands", she said.

"If this is the state of apathy and insensitivity that a woman with supposedly privileged position of an IAS faces in our courts, one cannot even imagine the plight of ordinary women seeking justice", Bafna said.

"A woman comes to the court with hopes of justice. She expects an unbiased trial and compassionate treatment. But what I underwent gave me a feeling of re-victimisation. I do not wish to prejudice the decision of the case but I already feel a sense of injustice owing to the lack of sensitive procedure while dealing with this case. I felt belittled and humiliated", she wrote.

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