In a historic achievement for The Quint, the Delhi Legislative Assembly has passed a resolution to prepare a bill to make stalking a non-bailable offence, further to a proposal submitted to the Aam Aadmi Party by us. This came 20 days after the AAP Delhi Women’s Wing organised a public consultation with the party and its top leadership to discuss the need for such a Bill in Delhi. The Quint’s team, including Assistant Editor Garvita Khybri, Legal Correspondent Vakasha Sachdev helped organise the event, and CEO Ritu Kapur was one of the panelists.
The Quint and Quint NEON have been running a campaign called #TalkingStalking since August 2017, to encourage stalking survivors to speak up and report the crime.
After months of speaking with survivors, we realised the number of reported cases were painfully low – only 20% of the cases were ever reported. But the instances of stalking leading to acid attacks, rapes, suicides and murders remained high.
Thus, we moved our campaign towards helping survivors report as well as making amendments to Section 354D of the IPC that designates stalking as a bailable offence.
We launched our campaign on Change.org where it already has over 170,000 signatures in support.
Member of Parliament Dr Shashi Tharoor also worked with us on the Bill at the Centre. We drafted a Private Member’s Bill with his team, which has been submitted to Parliament and will be discussed soon.
Member of Parliament Husain Dalwai has also supported our cause to make stalking a non-bailable offence.
Why Make Stalking a Non-Bailable Offence?
The fact that stalking is still a bailable offence in our country allows stalkers to get bail without serious scrutiny. This often puts the survivors at risk of facing acid attacks, rape, and even murder.
Stalking as a separate offence did not exist in the IPC till 2013. This necessarily affects any analysis of the statistics relating to stalking, as the National Crime Records Bureau (“NCRB”) only has statistical data for the years 2014-2016. Despite this, the data available paints an interesting picture of the nature of the crime and the way it is being dealt with in the country.
- In 2014, nearly 4,700 cases of stalking were reported. This jumped to 6,300 in 2015 – a 33% increase. In 2016, nearly 7,200 cases were reported. Given that awareness about the offence is still nascent and society still tends to view stalking as not too serious an offence, such high numbers, with increases every year, indicate how prevalent the crime really is.
- Pendency rates for trials are high. In 2016, 13,449 cases were pending trial for stalking, out of which trial was completed in only 1,534 cases i.e. 11.4%. This leaves a huge backlog of trials to be carried forward into the new year.
- In terms of the number of cases reported each year, only 3% in 2014, 5% in 2015 and 5% in 2016 resulted in convictions. In terms of trials, the conviction rate was 35% in 2014, but dropped to 26% in 2015 and stood at 26.4% in 2016.
- Importantly, the data indicates a lower-than-normal incidence of false cases. The NCRB’s statistics show that of the 9,800 stalking cases investigated by the police in the year, only 215 were found by them to be false. This comes out to be only 2.1% of all cases investigated in the year – which is below the average percentage of false cases per crimes investigated across the country: 2.5%.