Supreme Court lawyer Pardeep Kumar Rapria’s take on the Chandigarh stalking case

Pardeep Kumar Rapria

I can see a lot of hue and cry by the politicians on this issue on TV Channels. But irony is that few months back in my case Punjab and Haryana High Court issued notice to the Haryana Police for sexual harassment of a 14-year-old poor village girl by CIA Police but there was no similar statement or TV debate by any politician on the issue.Even the local MLA did not respond to the incident. In the present

In the present case, the politicians are barking only because the accused happens to be the son of the State BJP President and victim girl is the daughter of an IAS Officer. Every day such incidents happen, but nobody cares. The Chandigarh stalking case has become a national issue only because the victim and accused both belong to influential families. Since politician’s son is involved the politics has also kicked in. Stalking and connected incidents dominate the public discourse only when the accused or victim belong to well-known families or people or result in violence, Therefore, it appears that for getting justice there should be some political or power connection in the matter.

Be that as it may, the police failure to slap abduction charge appears mischevious. Further, the case attracted Section 506 (Criminal Intimidation) & Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of IPC. However, the release on bail was secured only by invoking bailable Sections of Stalking, Wrongful Restraint, Drunk Driving. Stalking is too often dismissed as harmless, but we must not forget that stalking contains the seed for a bigger, often violent crime. It should not be forgotten that murders and acid attacks and rape have had their origin in stalking. Stalking became an independent offence in 2013 when the criminal law was amended in the wake of horrific gang rape, after the recommendation of Justice Verma Committee. The hope that sharpening the rigour and scope of the penal laws would bring crime against women has, ironically, been belied often. As in the present case, very often, the attempts are made by quarters close to the accused to cast aspersions on the victim. Let’s hope that the society has advanced sufficiently to call out such victim shaming.

Women in Haryana need to be protected proactively. The ‘Beti Bachao’ slogan will remain a hollow popularity stunt unless the Government starts taking more than a casual interest in the safety of women. And, above all, let’s not start raising fingers on the character or activity of the women for the commission of a crime relating to sexual harassment, until and unless there is an element of extortion from the side of women in making accusations.

MR.RAPRIA IS ADVOCATE,SUPREME COURT, PUNJAB AND HARYANA HIGH COURT

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