FYI 19th November, 2018
In Times Of #MeToo, Here Is A List Of Laws We Should Know About.

#MeToo has addressed the selective access to law and justice. It is not an easy process for survivor/victims. Keeping this in mind, it’s all the more important to know the laws available to us to confront these legal hurdles.  Survivors should always be bolstered for voicing their demands for justifiable rights.

1) Section 468(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)

CrPC prescribes the limitation periods for taking cognizance of complaints under provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which are as follows:

(a) six months, if the offence is punishable with fine only.

(b) one year, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year;

(c) three years, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding one year but not exceeding three years.

However, the Court allowing the condonation of delay in certain cases may take cognizance of such matters even after the expiry of its limitation period but it may be subject to the facts and circumstances of each case.

2) Indian Penal Code (IPC)

In the case of IPC, the provisions related to sexual offences are:-

i) Section 294 (Obscene acts and songs)

Whoever, to the annoyance of others—

(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or

(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

ii) Section 354 (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 thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

iii) Section 354A (Sexual Harassment and punishment for sexual harassment)

  • A man committing any of the following acts—
  1. physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
  2. a demand or request for sexual favours; or
  3. showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
  1. making sexually coloured remarks shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
  2. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (I) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (I) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
  3. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (I) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

iv) Section 354B (Assault or use of Criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe)

Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

v) Section 354C (Voyeurism)

Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

vi) Section 354D (Stalking)

  1. Any man who—
  2.  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
  3. monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking:

Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that—

  1. it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking bad been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or
  2. it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or

            iii. in particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

  1. Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.’.

v) Section 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman)

Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, 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, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

However, an alternative recourse is also available to the aggrieved party through the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, based on the Vishakha guidelines. Though this Act provides a limitation period of 90 days for the filing of complaints, it may extend such period by another 90 days by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).

This Act also provides a wide scope to the definition of ‘workplace’ and also includes harassment caused by any third party arising in any relation resulting from the course of work. It puts the responsibility to prevent and deter any sexual offences upon the ‘employer’. Thus the employer can also initiate the legal proceeding under IPC or any appropriate Act on behalf of the aggrieved woman if found necessary besides conducting any action under the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.

3) Recourse available through various acts in place

In some cases, the charges under IPC can also be filed before the appropriate authority in association with laws those as mentioned below:-

i) The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

ii) The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008

iii) The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

iv) The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

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