Written by Rohit Prakash
4th year BA LLB Student, Christ (Deemed To Be) University
Stalking is a particular form of harassment. It may be repeatable or persistent. The cyberspace is being taken up by a new form of crime that includes repetitive attempt by one person to contact another thereby causing a sense of threat in mind of such other person. This emerging crime is popularly known as ‘cyber stalking’. The author has made an attempt to deal with the issues of cyberstalking which is a newly coined phenomenon. In first chapter there is discussion on cyberstalking and then, in the third chapter the author explains the difficulties of enforcing the stalking offences in India and after that the difference between the perceptive and non-perceptive legislation and lastly the author also explains about the nature of cyberstalking and also about the situations of victims of cyberstalking. The author in the last chapter has given concluding remarks followed by some suggestions and preventive action that one could take as prevention is better than cure.
Stalking is particular form of harassment. It may be repeatable or persistent. It may be targeted at one individual by another. This behavior may be sinister in nature e.g. threatening telephone calls, death threats and physical assaults are prime examples. Others may be quite innocuous in themselves but when sufficiently repeated are often likely to provoke feelings of harassment and intimidation in the target, examples include walking past the targets home or workplace and sending letters or flowers to the target, repeated excess unwanted telephone calls- regardless of content, a stranger engaging the target in an unsolicited conversion in a public place such as at a bus stop. Thus stalking cannot dividing into staking behaviors and non-stalking behavior. E.g. telephoning the target after one initial meeting/ agreeing with the target’s every word (even when she is obviously wrong). Unasked for offers of help, lifts in his car, etc. Stalker activity may vary in term of intensity within individual cases and may be variable over time.
Manish Kathuria was stalking Ritu Kohli by illegally chatting on a chat website called MIRC using her name. – He used obscene, obnoxious language and distributed her residence phone number, inviting people to chat with her phone, as a result of which, Ritu kept getting anonymous obscene calls from people all around the world. In a state of shock, she called the Delhi police and reported the matter. For once the police department did not waste time into swinging into action, and a case has been registered under section 509 against Manish Kathuria for outraging the modesty of Ritu Kohli.
Kidnapping of 16yrs old girl at Mumbai: – Akbar khatri, from his school, by a paedophilic lady chat friend of his, in order to sell him to child traffickers at Pakistan. Another case registered at Mumbai in the year 2000, was of a 16-year-old girl who was reported to be missing from her home after she befriended a boy in Moradabad through internet chat.
The ‘web’ is lurching with ‘spiders’ like sex maniacs paedophile and other terrifying avatars of cyber stalkers, crouching to prey on unsuspecting young children, teenagers or even sometimes middle-aged adults.
Moreover, the IT act does not have cyber stalking provision in this act and the Central Government must enact such law looking to experience of the countries.
Thirty-nine percent of the cases involved e-mails; 16 percent chat rooms; 13 percent instant messaging programs: 9 percent message boards; 9 percent newsgroups : 9 percent a website (other than message boards); 3 percent a virus attack : and 4 percent other ways. A common place for cyber stalking is at the ‘Edu’ or educational sites for colleges and universities cyber angels- an international online safety organization that assists victims and police, and provides information on all aspects of online safety, privacy and security- estimates that as many as 80,000 Canadians are cyber stalked annually.
The victims of stalking also play important roles in the way that stalking may be legally defined. Anti-stalking laws frequently require the victim to display negative effects of stalking, or else require that a reasonable person would be likely to experience negative consequences in the same situation. These negative effects may take the form of substantial emotional distress.
In 1998, President Clinton signed a bill into law protecting children against online stalking. The statute makes it a federal crime knowingly to communicate. But although this law can provide protection for children against predators, it doesn’t cover harassing phone calls to minors in which there is no intent to entice or solicit the child for illicit sexual purposes. the NIJ was asked by congress to develop a Model stalking code. Shri Joanna R. Adler in Forensic Psychology has observed about the model.
Outside USA, similar variations exist between countries with regard to what legally constitutes stalking or harassment. In England and Wales, a broad approach has been adopted where ‘a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other’
In Ireland, however a definition of harassment is provided as follows:-
“Any person who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, by any means including by use of the telephone, harasses another by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating with him or her shall be guilty of an offence.
The term stalking has no legal status in the UK and although the protection from act is informally referred to as the ‘anti-stalking law’, it doesn’t actually use or define the term stalking. Furthermore, the legal test as to whether a person is guilty of harassment is once again based on the judgment of ‘reasonable person’ unlike most criminal offences which require some degree of intent.
The 1997 act created two specific criminal offences to deal with the problem of harassment. The first is an indictable offence involving fear of violence. This offence requires proofs that the victim was put in fear of violence, regardless of whether or not the offence intended to do so, and carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. The second is the summary offence of criminal harassment which doesn’t require the victim to have been put in fear of violence, and could result in a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment in jail.
The Majority of victims are females (75%). The 1998 British Crime Survey found 16-19yrs old to be most at risk. And this survey also found stalking prevalent to be the highest among victims with a relatively low household income. Stalking victims are more frequently found among single persons although married person and those in other partners are not exempt from stalking victimization, particularly if they were students and living in privately rented accommodation. These risks appear to be greater for young single women in high status occupations, or celebrities etc. It is observed that domestic doesn’t necessarily and with the conclusions of a relationship but may continue in form of stalking.
Cyber stalking is a virtual or electronic form of physical stalking. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, or persistent unwelcome contact with another individual for example, following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalism of property.
Cyber stalking could be in various forms such as threatening, victims over the internet, sending harassing e-mail or in extreme cases, even trying to make contact in person, against the will of the victim. It could be worse in certain cases where the cyber stalker knows personal details and whereabouts of the victims, wherein the victims phone number could be displayed across the Net, most commonly on pornographic or telephonic chat line websites and in extreme cases, even by displaying morphed photographs of the victim on pornographic pictures.
It is in all respects accurately said that on the off chance that you need to get change the present situation, you have to beat the old model of managing the circumstance and fabricate another model that is viable and productive. Cyberstalking is a recently instituted term. It has gained consideration of the lawmaking body and legal executive as of late. There have been numerous occasions where the requirement for powerful enactment was felt as it turns out to be hard for the authorization organizations to manage such cases. Cyberstalking is demonstrated to be a grave offense. It has extremely broad effect on the psychological and physical strength of the person in question. Through this article, the writer has made an endeavor to talk about the expression “cyberstalking” in detail alongside its tendency and extension. A few people contend that it is an all-encompassing variant of digital stalking or another type of stalking yet it seems, by all accounts, to be more than that. It is another type of wrongdoing itself. We have seen that the aim of the stalker is to disturb and undermine his/her unfortunate casualty. Hence, it includes crime. Numerous nations have enactments regarding this matter. None of the current arrangements are equipped for managing the cases productively. India does not have any immediate enactment regarding the matter. Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code have scarcely any arrangements that could be identified with this cybercrime and subsequently the stalker can be reserved under those arrangements. These are the lacuna in the authoritative methodology pursued by the nations to address this wrongdoing. There are not really any revealed cases on the grounds that the police experts don’t take up the case in light of the implementation issues as the stalker and the injured individual may have a place with various nations therefore, it ends up hard to choose as to law of which nation is to be pursued. We ought not exclusively rely on the administrative arrangements however ought to proactively make an endeavor to don’t offer ascent to such circumstances.