STALKING

1) Any male who— stalking is the act of following a woman and making repeated attempts to get in touch with her for romantic purposes despite her obvious lack of interest; it also includes keeping track on how she uses the internet, email, or any other kind of electronic communication. With the caveat that such behavior shall not constitute stalking if the man who engaged in it can demonstrate that:

1-it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of preventing and detecting crime by the State;

2- It was pursued in accordance with any law; it was pursued to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or in

3-Such behavior was appropriate and justifiable given the unique circumstances.

(2) The first offence of stalking is punishable by imprisonment of either kind for a term that may not exceed three years, as well as a fine; a second or subsequent offence is punishable by imprisonment of either kind for a term that may not exceed five years, as well as a fine.

ANALYSIS of SECTION 354D of IPC

Despite the fact that Section 354D talks more about stalking, it does not include stalking that involves anyone other than women. Since the development of technology, victims of the communication offence might be individuals of all genders. Stalking is one of those crimes that can happen to anybody at any time. This necessitates a more gender-inclusive provision.

In the first instance, stalking in violation of Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code is a bailable offence, allowing the accused to be released on bail. The offender is not compelled to appear in court and such bail does not need to be authorized by the judge. When in fact it is imperative to make it non-bailable mainly because guys frequently abuse it. In addition to being illegal on its own, stalking frequently leads to additional offences like sexual harassment. The aforementioned incidents demonstrate how stalking can result in major crimes against women like rape. The lady endures harassment, is called out by statements with sexual overtones, is mocked, and is subjected to demands and requests for sexual favors. Because the internet is such a quick and inexpensive generation, online stalking those results in sexual harassment is fairly common. A woman’s self-esteem, independence, and mental health are all negatively impacted by all of these behaviours. Most crimes against women begin with stalking and escalate to major offences, sometimes in retaliation for the victim filing a complaint. Despite being detained, the stalker is released on bond and is free to wander.

Cases involving Section 354D of the IPC

Santosh Kumar Singh v. State was one of the most perplexing instances to use section 354D. Priyadarshini Mattoo, a 25-year-old law student, was stalked, raped, and killed at her home in New Delhi through CBI (2010). The third-year law student reported that Mr. Santosh Singh, the son of an ex-IPS officer and her senior at the university legal centre in Delhi, had repeatedly followed and harassed her. He was accused of pursuing her, harassing her, threatening her, and making lewd advances on several occasions. The Maurice Nagar Police Station received a FIR under Section 354; the offender was then detained and released on bail. The university’s dean received a complaint and requested but due to the gravity of the case, the victim was also allocated personal security guards along with the accused to prevent them from engaging in similar actions. On January 23, 1996, he attacked the victim when she was home alone due to reaching a court settlement. Then he started hitting her with his helmet 14 times, raped her, and then strangled her to death with a wire. Due to the fabrication of evidence by the CBI and the lack of following legal processes when gathering evidence, the trial court decided to take the case up and granted the accused the benefit of the doubt.

The accused was given the death punishment when the case came before the High Court, but on December 10 the Supreme Court commuted the sentence to life in prison.

In the 2016 case of Shri Deu Baju Bodake v. The State of Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court addressed a woman’s suicide and determined that the cause of her death was persistent harassment and stalking by the offender. In addition to harassing and stalking her while she was at work, the accused allegedly insisted on getting married to her in spite of her lack of interest and opposition. In order to punish the offender, the High Court ruled that Section 354D and aiding in suicide must both be recorded.

CRITICISM OF SECTION 354D OF IPC

Even if just 26% of stalking cases resulted in convictions in 2017, according to the National Crime Report Bureau, one cannot help but wonder if there are enough laws in place to stop stalking. Stalking is punishable under the Indian Penal Code of 1860 and the Information and Technology Act of 2000, however prevention has not been brought up. This suggests that the criminal justice system should examine legislation pertaining to women in a preventative manner as opposed to a protective manner. In other words, stop the bad in its tracks. The definition of stalking as a felony has to be strengthened because it currently only refers to following a woman and making contact with her even when she shows no interest. It makes no reference to behaviours that might constitute stalking or that are a form of it, such as gazing, spreading rumors, making calls, or loitering outside of a person’s home.

CONCLUSION

The creation of a framework for protections for women was greatly aided by the Indian Penal Code. The law makes an effort to address crimes committed against women of all ages, beginning with prenatal stages, childhood, adolescence, and reproductive years, as well as crimes committed against old women; for instance, there have been multiple instances of abuse of widows. Because women are reluctant to put their freedom of movement at risk and because many witnesses fail to report it, the majority of stalking incidents go unreported; as a result, the crime is not treated seriously at all, even if it is punishable. With knowledge of what to do in circumstances of stalking or how to use Section 354D to report the crime, submit a FIR, and other relevant information, approach the right authorities a change can be brought.

REFERENCES

“India Code: Section Details” (India Code: Section Details) <https://www.indiacode.nic.in/show-data?actid=AC_CEN_5_23_00037_186045_1523266765688&sectionId=46125&sectionno=354D&orderno=398&gt; accessed November 3, 2022

“IPC Section 354D – Stalking” (A Lawyers Reference) <https://devgan.in/ipc/section/354D/&gt; accessed November 3, 2022

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