June 12, 2024

Stalking as an offence

Stalking, an intrusive and threatening behavior, has emerged as a grave concern in societies worldwide including India. It encompasses a range of actions that involve unwanted attention, intimidation,and harassment towards another person. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary,stalking is “the act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death especially because of express or implied threats Stalking in India is governed by Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) which criminalizes such acts. According to this Section, Stalking is defined as “Any man who-

1.     Follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such women to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or

2.     Monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication,commits the offence of stalking.

This provision acknowledges that stalking can manifest in various forms such as physical, cyber, surveillance, and telephonic stalking. Each mode of stalking involves persistent pursuit, monitoring, and intrusion into the victim’s personal life without their consent.

Forms of Stalking

In India, various acts of stalking are recognized and addressed under legal provisions. Stalking in India is categorized as follows:

1.     Physical Stalking:

2.     Electronic Stalking:


Modesof Stalking

There areinnumerable options and ways that an individual can use for stalking, some of themare listed as follows: Following the victim, showing up at their workplace orhome uninvited, or persistently visiting their frequented places.

·        Sendingunwanted emails and messages repeatedly.

·        Makingmalicious posts on social media platforms about the victim.

·        Spreading fakerumors.

·        Takingphotographs.

·        Threaten tosexual and physical assault.

·        Forcefulcommunication.

·        Stalkingthrough social media and other apps.

·        Sending filthyletters.

·        Engaging inobscene conversations.

·        Stalking usingtechnological means such as hidden cameras, GPS tracking devices, or other methodsto invade the victim's privacy.


Types of stalkers

Stalkers can showdifferent types of behaviors and motivations, some of the common types ofstalkers are mentioned:-

·       RejectedStalker.

·       ResentfulStalker.

·       IntimacySeeking Stalker.

·       PredatoryStalker.

·       IncompetentSuitor.

·       Hitmen.


Stalking and Indian Laws

In India, the offence of stalking is governed underSection 354D of the IPC where stalking is defined as the act of following,contacting, or attempting to contact a person persistently despite their clearindication of disinterest or through any other means of communication, causingfear or distress in the victim. Section 354D(2) of the IPC deals with stalking punishmentin India which is imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years and witha liable fine for first conviction. For a second or subsequent conviction, theoffender is punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to five yearsand with a liable fine by the Information Act, 2000. Section 66A of the IT Act,2000, illustrates ‘punishment for sending offensive messages throughcommunication service, etc.’ As per this Section, any individual “who sends, bymeans of a computer resource or a communication device, (a) any informationthat is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or (b) any informationwhich he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance,inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation,enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computerresource or a communication device; (c) any electronic mail or electronic mailmessage for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive orto mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shallbe punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years andwith fine.”

Also, Section 67A and Section 67B of the IT Actprovide ‘punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containingsexually explicit act, etc.,

Other Sections relatedto Section 354D IPC :-

·        Section354A of the IPC deals with sexual harassment.

·        Section354B of the IPC addresses the offence of assault.

·        Section354C of the IPC pertains to voyeurism.

·        Section292 of the IPC deals with offences related to obscenity.

·        Section506 of the IPC addresses criminal intimidation.

·        Section509 of the IPC deals with the offense of insulting the modesty of a woman byusing words, gestures, or acts.

·        Section66E of the IT Act deals with voyeurism through the internet, commonly as aresult of cyberstalking, and provides punishment for the same whereas Section354C read with

·        Section354D of the IPC is voyeurism thathappens with physical stalking.