IPC 354D – Stalking
354D. Stalking. – Wikiedia defines Stalking is unwanted or repeated surveillance by an individual or group towards another person. Stalking behaviors are interrelated to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. Section 354D of Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of stalking. However, according to it, it can be an offence by a man against a woman.
As per the definition:
(1) Any man who –
- Follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly, despite a clear indication of disinterest by such person, or
- Monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
Commits the offence of stalking:
Provided that such of conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that-
- That it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking has been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the state; or
- It was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
- In the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.
Explanation: As per the section, in first part any man who follows a woman or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman commits the offence of stalking and shall be punished with imprisonments. So the offence is not complete just by following or contacting a woman unless a man continues to do so even after a clear indication of disinterest by such woman.
Now comes the second part, in view of the fact that he misuse of technology is done for stalking, the definition also includes monitoring the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form in electronic communication. Here the woman need not show her disinterest in such stalking.
The legislature in its wisdom put three provisos or conditions in which the offence of stalking is not attracted. First of course is for men who were entrusted with responsibility of preventing or detecting a crime by the state and were doing so during the course of his duty. Secondly is almost similar that the act was done under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed under any law. Third is little trickier and puts the onus on the man to prove that in the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.
Punishment: Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.
The offence of stalking is cognizable and bailable for the first offence and in subsequent offences it becomes non-bailable and the punishment is increased. It has to be understood that subsequent offence is calculated only after conviction in first offence.
I have personally experienced stalking, which lasted almost a complete year that included hacking of emails, sending dirty messages here and there to my professional and personal friends. I can vouch that it is scary and frightening for all persons alike and not only to females. Unfortunately, the same kind of activity is romanticized in Bollywood movies and the same gives an impression to young minds that such a behaviour is cool and is a way to woo the other sex.
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