The Menace of Stalking: A Growing Problem
At some point in their lives, most people have had to put up with an errant friend or colleague who calls them at odd hours of the night and lingers around their house in a menacing manner. Infamously labelled as ‘Stalkers’, these unwanted individuals intrude into the personal lives of the victims and create an atmosphere of fear, suspicion and discomfort. This causes severe physical and psychological harassment that destroys a person’s peace of mind that everyone looks forward to.
Until recently, the law was silent on such forms of quiet harassment. Women have been affected the most, with former lovers routinely lingering around their houses and making threatening gestures. On several occasions, victims have faced physical assault from stalkers. On a larger scale, the statistics are more worrying. Statistics published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) state that in 2014, there were 4,700 cases of stalking, 674 related to voyeurism and 6,400 related to assaults and attempts to strip women. Instances of such crimes against women are on the rise. Delhi is the worst affected, with 2 complaints every day.
What to do When you are Being Stalked:
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, enacted as an aftermath of the Nirbhaya Gangrape Case, has criminalised the act of Stalking. As per Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the offence of stalking is punishable with imprisonment for up to three years. Section 354D states that if any man follows a woman and attempts to contact her despite her disinterest, he will be punished with imprisonment for up to three years.
Further, if a man monitors a woman’s use of internet, email or communication, it will also amount to stalking. Further, as per the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.), the offence of Stalking is cognizable and non-bailable. If there’s an incidence of stalking, an FIR can be registered with the local police station. Once an FIR is registered, the police have the powers of arrest and search and seizure that can be used against the stalker.
The Best Remedy – File an FIR:
Thus, the offence of stalking is punishable under Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code. Should a woman feel that she is being followed by a menacing character, she must immediately inform the local police station and register an FIR under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Basic proof in the form of photos or call records would certainly add to evidence. With the growing pressure of the media and judiciary, the police have become sensitive to such cases and certainly help women in need.