[Trigger Warning: This explainer contains information on physical violence, sexual violence, abuse and slurs which some readers may find disturbing.]
Everyone has a right to privacy1. This means that anyone can do anything, sexual or not, thinking that no one is watching them (provided that it shouldn’t be illegal). Under the law, only a man can be punished for the crime.
Being Watched by Someone
If a person tries to watch someone while they are doing any private act, which they would do only if they thought2 they were either completely alone or with a particular person they gave consent to, then it is a crime under the law. This crime is commonly known as voyeurism. Some examples are in cases where:
- A person is being watched by someone when they are alone. For example, while they are using the toilet.3
- Someone has illegally installed a camera in a person’s bedroom or hacked into their webcam to watch them in their private space.
Capturing Private Images
If pictures, video or audio recordings of a person are without their permission, then it is a crime.
The punishment for capturing or watching someone without their knowledge or consent, is jail time of at least three years or a maximum of seven years along with a fine2.
Distribution of Private Pictures and Videos
No one can record or distribute private pictures or videos of a person, unless they give consent. For example, if a person gives consent to only recording a sexual act with their loved one but has not given permission to distribute it to other people, and that recording is distributed, then it is a crime.4
The punishment for distribution of private pictures, images or audio is jail time of at least three years or a maximum of seven years along with a fine2.1
- Article 21, Constitution of India, 1950.
- Section 354C, Indian Penal Code, 1860 [Commonly known as Voyeurism]
- State v Shailesh, Delhi District Court, Criminal Appeal No.33/2016
- Section 354C, Explanation II, Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000.