To combat rising incidents of crimes against women on trains, the Railway Police Force (RPF) is mulling a three-year jail term for the sexually harassing a woman on board a train. According to a report in PTI, this has been included in a set of new provisions proposed by the RPF for the inclusion in the Railway Act.
Currently, such offenders are charged under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (outraging the modesty of a woman). The maximum punishment prescribed under Section 354 is a one-year jail term. If amended, the Railway Act will be applied and not the IPC.
An official told PTI that if the proposed provisions are included in the Railway Act, the RPF will have a right to apprehend an accused without the help of the Government Railway Police (GRP). Under the current Act, the RPF is required to seek the aid of the GRP since they do not have any provision to deal with such crimes.
The provisions have been proposed so that the RPF can take action swiftly and will not always have to wait for the assistance from GRP.
According to the current statistics, the Railway Ministry had informed the Rajya Sabha earlier this year that the number of crimes against women, while they were travelling on trains, rose by 35 per cent during 2014-2016. During those two years, 1,607 cases of crimes against women passengers were registered.
Among the provisions proposed, the RPF has also suggested doubling the fine for male passengers travelling in compartments marked exclusively for women. Section 162 of the Railway Act currently prescribes a Rs 500 fine for the offender and the RPF has proposed raising it to Rs 1,000.
These provisions will now be submitted to the government for approval and will have to be approved by the Parliament before they can be included in the Act.