The Maharashtra government on Thursday said it is considering amending the legal provision to enhance the sentence for molestation and outraging a woman's modesty - punishable under sections 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) - by one year each.
Currently, the maximum punishment for both offences is upto two years' imprisonment.
The state revealed this in an affidavit filed by the home department. This was in response to a suo motu proceeding initiated by the Bombay High Court on the basis of a report published in Hindustan Times on June 21, about the molestation of a woman in a local train in Nerul.
The affidavit, filed by deputy secretary of home department SG Sonawane, states that the procedure for amending sections 354 and 509 of the IPC will be taken up immediately after a state-appointed committee submits its report.
The committee was appointed in 2010 to recommend legal and administrative measures to ensure the implementation of penal provisions and to curb the rising number of offences against women. However, additional government pleader Jyoti Pawar had no answer to the court's query about when the committee would submit its report.
The court has asked Pawar to produce a copy of the panel's interim report at the next hearing, two weeks later.
The court also directed Anil Sharma, chief security commissioner of the Railway Protection Force, to state in an affidavit the steps the RPF proposes to take to ensure the safety of women commuters. It has ordered the RPF to post women constables in trains to prevent such incidents.
The court has asked for the names of the Government Railway Police personnel who refused to register the complaint of a 25-year-old Nerul commuter after she was molested in a train on June 19. The HT report had highlighted the insensitivity of the police personnel, who had discouraged the victim from filing a complaint as she had "only been molested".