- Stalking is not a mere annoyance. On the contrary, it is a crime that requires strict legal punishment.
What is Stalking?
- Stalkingis unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group towards another person.
- Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them.
- Stalking is a violation of privacy; it directly impacts life and can puts the victim in danger.
- Stalking is also illegal in India.
- Reporting about the stalker to legal authorities and demanding protection for oneself is a legal right.
Types of stalkers:
- Stalkers usually suffer from psychotic disorders or severe personality disorders.
- Psychotic stalkers usually show primary erotomania, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.
- Those with severe personality disorders have narcissistic, borderline, or antisocial personality disorders.
- Many also have associated substance abuse disorders.
Legal initiatives in India against stalking:
- In 2013, with The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 (The Nirbhaya Act), the offence of stalking (along with few offences like, acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism) were incorporated into the IPC.
- Under the Section 354D, stalking can attract punishment of “Imprisonment not less than one year but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine”.
- The act defines stalking as: “To follow a woman and contact, or attempt to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or monitor the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication. There are exceptions to this section which include such act being in course of preventing or detecting a crime authorised by State or in compliance of certain law or was reasonable and justified.”
- In 2014, data on voyeurism and stalking were treated as separate offences for the first time by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Need of law against strict stalking in India: critical analysis
- A total of 674 cases of voyeurism and 4,699 cases of stalking were reported in the country during the 2014.
- In 2015, NCRB recorded a total of 6,266 complaints under stalking.
- According to the data from NCRB, AP and Telangana reported 504 cases of stalking in 2014 and 551 cases in 2015.
- Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to stalking, is a bailable offence.
- This has attracted the criticism that the police did not invoke more stringent provisions.
- The use of a particular section depends on whether the ingredients of the offence are present in the actions of the accused.
- It is important for the government to understand how traumatic and inhibiting it is for a victim, especially a woman to be pursued with unwanted interest, and for such stalking to be considered as ‘normal’.
- There are times when stalking contains the seed for a bigger, often violent crime.
- It should not be forgotten that murders and acid attacks have had their origins in stalking.
- The law has been severely criticized for being gender biased.
- According to the law, only a man can commit the offence on a woman.
- A man committing the offence of stalking would be liable for imprisonment up to three years for the first offence, and shall also be liable to fine and for any subsequent conviction would be liable for imprisonment up to five years and with fine.
- Cyber stalking is when a person is followed and pursued online. Their privacy is invaded, their every move watched. It is a form of harassment, and can disrupt the life of the victim and leave them feeling very afraid and threatened
- Two kinds of cyber stalking situations which can occur.
- Online harassment & cyber stalking that occurs & continues on the internet.
- Online harassment and stalking that begins to be carried on offline too. This is when a stalker may attempt to trace a telephone number or a street address. Always be careful what details you give out over the web and to whom.
- Examples of Cyber Stalking are as follows:
- Receiving threatening or unwanted online communication, often containing obscene language, i.e. emails, SMS messages.
- Having your computer or mobile device tracked or infected with viruses.
- Having your information collected to be used as blackmail against.
Legal laws against cyber stalking in India:
- Prior to February 2013, there were no laws that directly regulate cyber stalking in India.
- India’s Information Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act) was a set of laws to regulate the cyberspace.
- However, it merely focused on financial crimes and neglected interpersonal criminal behaviors such as cyber stalking.
- In 2013, Indian Parliament made amendments to the Indian Penal Code, introducing cyber stalking as a criminal offence.