Cyber Stalking: The Crime

This blog is inscribed by Vanshika Sharma.

Introduction:  

Cyber Stalking is a crime where stalkers use the internet or any other electronic device to stalk someone. Stalking is the serious act that mostly gets neglected but it does lead to the crime it has been observed so many times that it is the first step towards committing a crime. Thanks to Indian cinema who romanticizes stalking. Perhaps stalking is the most common experience women have gone through. Before the rise of the internet age, the offense was not even conceded on the statute. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. are new tools to harass women and victimize them online. Stalking was recognized after the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013[1]

Act of Stalking

Stalking is an act committed by the one-track mind. It includes online harassing, threatening, or abusing an individual continuously. It shows an obsessive behavior of a stalker towards an individual where the stalker constantly follows and keeps eyes. It includes sending dirty messages, hacking, and using social media platforms in a non-acceptable way. 

In the growing age of the internet, stalkers think they can hide their identity as the internet provides easy ways to keep their anonymity, which allows them to keep a tight rein on the activities of their victim without their identity being reported, and their anonymity becomes their biggest strength. Thus, there is a serious need for strong laws to accuse the stalkers and to ensure justice for the victims. 

Psychological Aspect

There are various psychological reasons behind stalking such as Obsession, Sexual deviance, Envy, Inferiority complex, Stubbornness, Jealousy, Narcissist personality disorder, Internet addiction, etc. 

·       Jealousy:

The most common psychological trait behind stalking is jealous. In today’s world jealousy is the reason behind many acts. Jealousy can be one of the strong motives behind stalking especially when it is towards someone we have an inferiority complex with. 

·       Obsessive love disorder:

OLD refers to a condition where you become obsessed with one person you think you may be in love with. You might feel the need to protect your loved one obsessively, or even become controlling of them as if they were a possession[2].

·       Sexual Harassment:

It is said to be the most important motive behind stalking. This is because the internet reflects real life. 

·       Erotomania:

It is a kind of belief in which the stalker assumes that the victim, usually a stranger or famous person, is in love with him. It always involves sexual inclination towards someone.

Historical Aspect

The Indian Penal Code, 18603 (IPC) is a colonial law and it has never thoughtfully about stalking being an offence. Section 354 of IPC and Section 509 of IPC provided protection to women. 

Section 354 of IPC[3]

Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will there by outrage her modesty[4], [shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine].

Section 509 of IPC

Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.—

“Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any words, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman[5] [shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and also with fine] 

Rupan Deol Bajaj v. Kanwar Pal Singh (1995)

This was a very high profile case and have attracted the lime light for so many years. The case is popularly known as “The Butt Slapping Case” where Mrs. Rupan Deol who was a senior IAS officer of Punjab was slapped on the butt by KPS Gill DGP of Chandigarh Police in an official party where both were present. Mrs. Bajaj filled a complaint against Mr. Gill under Section 341[6], 342[7], 352[8], 354[9] and 509[10] of IPC. 

“The Magistrate did not always take cognizance of cases under sexual harassment until in the above mentioned case Supreme Court clearly directed the magistrate to take cognizes of the complaint under Section 354 reads with Section 509”. 

Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K. Chopra (1999)

The most important judgment given by the Supreme Court ruling that each act of sexual harassment resulted in violation of fundamental right to equality[11], right to life and personal liberty[12] of women employees.  

Legal Framework

Legislative framework is mentioned under Indian law specifically with respect to the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Indian Penal Code, 1860. Indian Laws with respect to cyber stalking:

Section 345D of IPC defines “Stalking”

“(1) any man who-

  1. follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication commits the offence of stalking;..”[13]

This section was added in 2013 after the Delhi Gang Rape Case, The Criminal Amendment Act, and 2013 added the section. The Section takes into account both physical stalking and cyber stalking. The section wider the scope of stalking and clearly makes it an offence of “stalking”.  If a man does any such activity he shall be guilty under Section 509 of IPC. This section requires that the words, sound or gesture should be spoken, heard and seen respectively. Thus, cyber stalkers can easily escape the penalty under this section as words cannot be spoken, gesture.[14]  

Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000

“Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form. -Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.”[15]

Section 67B of Information Technology Act, 2000

Punishment for publishing or transmitting a material of depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc. in an electronic mode. It is a newly inserted section. This section is newly inserted by Amendment Act 2008. The section focuses on when stalkers target children below the age of eighteen years and publishes material in which children are engaged in sexual activities in order to terrorize the children.

The various sections in which the matter of jurisdiction has been mentioned are Section 46, 48, 57 and 61 where adjudication process and the appellate procedure is mentioned. Another section is section 80 that explains the power of the police officers to enter and conduct searches of a public place in relation to a cyber-crime etc. In India, the Information Technology Act confers the “Extraterritorial jurisdiction” by virtue of Section 75.

Conclusion

Judiciary in India have made stalking a punishable offence and introduced such punishments. There are more sections to make it a crime but these are the main sections that cover this criminal act. Although there are many loopholes such as this section shows gender biasness as it only includes women. The penalty provided under existing provisions must be increased keeping in mind the wellbeing of the victim[16].

As in psychological aspects influence a lot and hence there is a strong need to understand psychological aspects.  

Reference:


[1] No. 13 of 2013.

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/obsessive-love-disorder 3 Act 45 of 1860. 

[3] Indian Penal Code, 1860 Page number 80. 

[4] Subs. by Act 13 of 2013, s. 6, for “shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both” (w.e.f. 3-2-2013). 6 Indian Penal Code, 1860 Page number 112. 

[5] Subs. by Act 13 of 2013, s. 10, for “shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both” (w.e.f. 3-2-2013).

[6] Punishment of wrongful restraint. 

[7] Punishment for wrongful confinement. 

[8] Punishment for assault and criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation.

[9] Assault or criminal force to woman to intent her modesty.

[10] Word gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman. 

[11] Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, 1950. 

[12] Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, 1950.  

[13] Indian Penal Code, 1860, No.45, Acts of Parliament, 1860.

[14] P. Duggal, India’s first Cyber stalking Case- Some Cyber law Perspectives.

[15] Information Technology Act, 2000, No. 21 of 2000. 

[16] Vijay Mukhi and Karan Gokani, Observations on the Proposed Amendments to the IT Act 2000, AIAI.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *