Stalking is legal or illegal?
By Bhumica M
REVA University, Bangalore
One of my close friends approached me with a problem saying that she used to face an uncomfortable situation on her way to college where a guy used to stop her on the way and forcefully ask her to make conversation with him. But my friend didn’t like that approach and it was just getting worse day by day. Then when she approached me, we together said it to her parents and the guy was warned, the problem was just covered with ashes but the fire was still there, later that guy attempted to sexually assault my friend and the consequences of that was she committed suicide. Then me and her parents realised that taking legal action was best in the initial days itself. But the question here is whether these types of actions are legal or illegal in India.
The act that was initially done on my friend was stalking. Stalking is an illegal and punishable offence added in criminal laws of India after 2013 criminal amendment act, due to increase in crimes against modesty of women in society.
For constitution of crime of stalking, there is no any particular mode but innumerable options and ways through which one can stalk, some of them are as follows-
- Following the girl;
- Sending unwanted and filthy letters and phone calls;
- Trying to communicate forcefully;
- Taking Photographs;
- Abuse and harass parents and friends;
- Physical assault and Threaten to physical assault;
- Threaten to sexual assault;
- Visited home for unnecessary purposes and stood outside home;
- Sending presents;
- Spread rumors;
- Cyber Stalking through social media and different apps.
Stalking should not be gender biased but in our country it is happening only against women and so does the law. Section 354D of IPC clearly says that stalking is an offence and it is cognizable, non-bailable and offence triable by any magistrate. If the convict is the first time offender then he will be punishable maximum up to three years of imprisonment along with fine but if the convict is second time offender and subsequent offender then he will be punished maximum up to five years of imprisonment and fine. In general terms anyone can be stalked and can stalk others because it is taken as normal action until and unless the legal action is taken against him or her.
According To National crime record bureau report of 2018, 9450 cases of stalking were reported in India. On average every 55 minutes one case of stalking was registered. In 2016 Bombay high court in Shri deu baju bodke v. The state of Maharashtra, observed that it was a case of suicide of a woman and the reason was constant harassment and stalking by the accused, he used to stalk her always during work and insisted her to marry him. Thus which led to this situation. Hence the high court charged him under section 354D plus abatement for suicide.
In India the working professional, students, housewife and many women get stalked on a regular basis without even knowing and not only the women’s but also the men’s. And stalking and harassing is not treated as a serious crime and due to the fear of being stalked many women and girls avoid getting out of their house. In order to avoid stalking and attracting unwanted distress the women are forced to dress so called “modestly” and to be inside the houses before sunset and to keep professional and limited relations from colleagues, neighbors, and other persons so that they don’t attract unwanted attention. Even after the 73 years of independence women are still caged. Stalking is very common and can either be done physically or through electronic mediums in different modes as elaborated above, which constitutes a criminal offence with an imprisonment of minimum 3 years. So I conclude by saying that it is a request for all if this type of situation arises amongst your peeps please do take legal action and Don’t let the problem grow into a monster.