Tharoor said that the current law encourages a sense of impunity in stalkers, who think they can get away without facing repercussions.

Teach men how not to stalk Karuna Nundy Tharoor push to make stalking non-bailableScreenshot
Social Policy Sunday, December 24, 2017 - 17:43

“Teach men how not to stalk, how to control anger, how to become more ‘marriageable’. Why should the onus always be on the woman,” questioned Karuna Nundy, a lawyer, at #TalkingStalking, an event hosted by The Quint in Delhi.

It was organised to spread awareness about a Shashi Tharoor’s Private Member’s Bill which seeks to stalking a non-bailable offense. The bill, drafted by The Quint team, Kamini Jaiswal and Karuna Nundy, and will be presented in the Parliament in the budget session.

The Bill is premised on the shocking incident from Chandigarh which shot Varnika Kundu, a 29-year-old woman, into limelight a few months ago. She was harassed by two men in an SUV in Chandigarh on August 5.

The two men were initially charged under section 354 D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, and later, under sections 341, 365 and 511 of the IPC. But the two accused, one of whom was the son of a BJP leader, got away because stalking is a bailable offense.

Following public uproar however, they were later charged with attempted abduction, and have repeatedly been denied bail since.

Apart from Karuna and Varnika, the event was attended by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, Director of Women's Resource Centre, Jagori, Geeta Nambisan, and acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. 

A bailable offence is an offence where bail can be immediately granted, and in case of a non-bailable offence, granting bail is at the discretion of the court.

A discussion between the attendees resulted in some pertinent observations about institutional problems as well as the need to make stalking a non-bailable offence.

“We’re quite a country of stalkers,” Karuna noted.

“We’re looking at something so serious, and the very fact that the existing law minimises it is quite shameful,” said Tharoor.

Talking about the bill, Tharoor said, “Those who aren’t allowing this Bill are doing an insult to the Varnikas and Laxmis of the country.” He also mentioned that bills often get passed only when there is a strong political imperative to do so, especially when legislative victory is linked to political ends.

“We’re quite a country of stalkers,” Karuna noted, “We have a lot of stalkers in this country. We have stalkers in our movies, we have stalkers in our parliament – and they admitted it, ki peecha karte hai!” Referring to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013, she added, “Parliamentarians who are against this [have] only revealed their patriarchy – and that patriarchy succeeded in 2013. That patriarchy, that misogyny, cannot succeed.”

As recent cases have shown, stalking has often been the precursor to worse crimes including violence and murder.

This was highlighted by Tharoor was well. Stalking being a bailable offence “highlights the extent to which this kind of behaviour is seen as commonplace and not even particularly exceptional,” he said.

Another reason for making it a non-bailable offence, experts pointed out, was that the current law increases the sense of impunity that stalkers enjoy. “You’re essentially saying that if at all anything goes wrong, you can be out of there quickly and you can carry on without being affected by it,” Tharoor said.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.