No matter how much Bollywood movies romanticise stalking, it is not a romantic gesture that ultimately leads to a happily-ever-after! Stalking is often dismissed as an harmless and innocent act, but it is an alarming and harrowing for the victim. It is the victim who ultimately has to bear the grunt, move to a different place, change jobs, and sometimes even their identity to evade the stalker.
What is Stalking?
Stalking is an obsessive behavior of an individual towards another where the former incessantly follows and spies on the latter. It is habitually associated with harassment and torment by a person who fanatically pursues someone. The recent Chandigarh stalking case has once again brought the extremity of the crime, where a girl was stalked for more than 10 kms by BJP chief’s son Vikas Barala and his friend in a drunken state.
Laws relating to Stalking in India
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 amended the Indian Penal Code and inserted ‘stalking’ as a crime under Section 354D(1)(1). Under the provision, stalking is defined as ‘an act where any man repeatedly follows and contacts a woman so as to foster personal interaction despite a clear indication of interest by such woman.’
It also states that ‘a man who is continuously monitoring the use of the internet, email or other forms of electronic communication by a woman, is effectively stalking her.’ The law makes stalking punishable with imprisonment for up to 3 years along with fine for first conviction and imprisonment for up 5 years with fine in case of repeated offence.
A criminal lawyer can be hired to take legal action against stalking in India, The best criminal lawyers in India can draft a strong criminal complaint and file it with the enforcement authorities. A complaint can also be filed with the National Commission for Women.
Even though the Act has made stalking a crime now, it has been criticised for its loopholes and lack of a coherent definition. There is an evident presumption that women do not stalk as it only protects women from stalking when the stalker is a man. Gender bias is one of the biggest lacunas of Indian criminal laws, and laws on stalking continue to insinuate this.
Stalking is not limited to physical stalking anymore and has shapeshifted into cyberstalking. When it comes to virtual or online stalking, general surveys have indicated that the female gender comprises of a large section of online stalkers as compared to their male counterparts. There are no laws to convict these stalkers due to the inadequacy in laws.
Cyber crime India like online harassment and cyberstalking have not been given adequate priority. In present times, physical stalking has become secondary to online stalking due to the increased reach and easily available information which can be effortlessly manipulated by someone. Regardless of their gravity, these crimes are considered as minor crimes. The Indian cyber laws do not address the issue of cyberstalking.
There are no specific provisions to deal with the crime and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 only comes into play when some obscene content is posted by the stalker. In such cases, it is important to talk to a cyber crime lawyer in India who can file a complaint for online stalking in a cyber crime cell in your city.
Lack of an exclusive machinery to deal with stalking cases, has been argued as the primary reason for paucity of impact of the present laws. There needs to be a mechanism to take swift actions against cyber crime complaint and nab the culprit faster. Additionally, there is fear instilled in the victim’s mind about registering a complaint with the law enforcement authorities due to lack of sensitisation and empathy shown towards the victim.
The need to highlight the ineffectiveness of stalking laws in India is long overdue. Stalking laws are relatively young laws which are still unknown to the majority. Establishing a dedicated machinery, sensitising the enforcement authorities and creating a quick redressal mechanism is required to deal with the problem of stalking, both physical and virtual.
It is necessary to report such crimes and consulting top criminal lawyers to deal with such situation. MyAdvo connects you with the best criminal lawyers in India. Email us at email@example.com or call us at +919811782573.