Stalking, eve-teasing to be part of new law against sex offenders

Criticised for excluding stalking and eve-teasing from the proposed Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, the Ministry of Home Affairs is reconsidering its decision to bring them under the ambit of the new law. Earlier, the MHA had dropped stalking and eve-teasing from the the new Bill on the grounds that such crimes are difficult to prove before the court.

Justice (retd) J S Verma committee has been asked to consider the suggestions made by women groups and NGO to bring serious offences such as stalking and eve-teasing in its recommendations. "These are serious offences with which the offender starts. They need to be nipped in the bud. We will recommend strict punishment in these offences. The suggestions were also made by women groups which have been sent to Verma commission," explained a senior MHA official.

Stalking is commonly defined as unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. Constantly harassing through phone calls, SMS or emails can also be described as stalking. Presently, the Delhi Police book offender of stalking or eve-teasing under sections 354 (molestation) and 509 (words, gestures or act intended to insult the modesty of women) of the IPC where maximum punishment is two years and one years, respectively. Under both sections, the offence is bailable.

According to the MHA, while reconsidering the offence of stalking, the decision to make such offences non-bailable will be proposed along with enhancement of punishment with fine. "We have come across several cases of stalking where the Delhi Police prosecute the offender under the DP act. In these cases, it was learnt that they impose a fine of merely Rs 100 and an imprisonment of not more than eight days," added the MHA official.

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