[Trigger Warning: This explainer contains information on physical violence, sexual violence, abuse and slurs which some readers may find disturbing.]
If a person repeatedly follows, contacts or monitors someone despite their disinterest or lack of consent, it is known as stalking. Stalking is a term used for numerous activities done by a person, which when taken together can disrupt the life of the survivor1. Under the law, only a man can be punished for the crime.
- Repetitive in nature and is consistent2.
- For example, if a person sends love letters every day to someone, despite their disinterest.
- Causes trauma by making someone feel uncomfortable, harassed, tortured, or intimidated. This can be physical, emotional or psychological3.
- For example, if flowers are repeatedly sent to a person’s office by someone and this makes them the subject of ridicule at the office.
- It is an invasion of personal space.
- For example, if someone is followed every day to their place of work
- Attempting to establish a relationship or personal contact with someone without their consent.
- For example, if someone sends multiple WhatsApp messages hoping for a reply.
The punishment for online stalking is jail time up to three years along with a fine. For repeat offenders, the punishment is higher, i.e. up to five years jail time along with a fine4.2
- Section 354D, Indian Penal Code, 1860
- State vs Sh. Abhimanyu, District Court, (Special Judge, CBI) Delhi (2018) CA No.18/15.
- Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law, Justice Verma Committee (2013) accessed at https://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Justice%20verma%20committee/js%20verma%20committe%20report.pdf.
- Section 354D, Indian Penal Code, 1860.