Section 354 in The Indian Penal Code – Complete Explanation IPC

ipc section 354
Written by: Urvi Malhotra

SECTION 354 IN THE INDIAN PENAL CODE

IPC SECTION 354ASSAULT OR CRIMINAL FORCE TO WOMAN WITH INTEND TO OUTRAGE HER MODESTY

Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

  • 1-5 Years punishment, or with fine or both.
  • Presence/ Absence of consent of the woman is the deciding factor in this offence.
  • Who is a woman?

Section 10 defines ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’ as a male and female human being respectively of any age.

  • What is modesty of woman?

Modesty of a woman is a virtue attacked to a woman owing to her ‘sex’

( Tarkeshwar Sahu v. State of Bihar (now Jharkhand), (2006) )

Does a girl who has not gained puberty and not developed a sex instinct has a concept of modesty?

  • In State of Punjab v. Major Singh (AIR 1967 SC 63), the accused went into a room, switched off the lights, stripped himself naked. And performed indecent act of unnatural lust by ‘fingering the vagina’ of 7.5-month old girl.
  • It was argued on his behalf that this won’t attract IPC section 354 because a child of 7.5 month is not capable of developing a sex instinct so she doesn’t have any concept of modesty which could be outraged.
  • Trial court and High court accepted this contention but Hon’ble Supreme Court said that yes, the modesty is based on her sex but that modesty is with every woman from her birth. Yes, sometimes the reaction of the woman on the act is very important to constitute an offence but absence of such a reaction does not mean that IPC Section 354 would not apply.

IPC SECTION 354A- Sexual Harassment and punishment for sexual harassment.

  1. A man committing any of the following acts-
    1. Physical contact and advances involving unwelcomed and explicit sexual overtures; or
    2. A demand or request for sexual favours; or
    3. Showing pornography against the Will of a woman, or
    4. Making sexually coloured remarks,
  2. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
  3. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

CASE LAW-

VISHAKHA V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN (AIR 1997 SC 3011)

  • IPC Section 354A was added by an amendment in 2013. Before that the governing law on sexual harassment at workplace didn’t exist and was added by “Vaisakha Guidelines” given in this case.
  • Sexual harassment was described as any unwelcomed sexually determined behaviour (whether directly, indirectly or implied) like physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and other unwelcomed physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct of sexual nature.

IPC SECTION 354B- Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe.

Any man who assaults or uses criminal force against any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.  

It is non-bailable and cognizable offence.

“ASSAULT” basically means to attack someone physically. Assault does not only mean a physical attack, verbal acts and gestures are also included in IPC section 354B.

IPC SECTION 354C- VOYEURISM.

Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall be either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Intruding person’s privacy and personal space comes under IPC section 354C.

For example– Placing a camera in trial rooms in different places or if the videos or images are circulated against the desire or will of the person. It includes uploading of nude pictures or semi-nude pictures on the internet. It is one of the most rampant crimes, starting India in its face today.

EXPLANATION -1

For the purpose of this section, “private act” includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where the victim’s genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind which is ordinarily done in public.

EXPLANATION -2

Where the victims consent to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third person and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.

IPC SECTION 354D- STALKING.

  1. Any man who-
    1. Follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
    2. Monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking: Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that-
      1. It was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stealing had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or
      2. It was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
      3. In the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified. It is also the wilful, malicious, and repeatedly following or harassing of a specific person which threatens his life or safety.

ESSENTIAL CONDITIONS-

  • The attack must be against a woman,
  • The offender must have used excessive force from his side,
  • The modesty of woman should be offended by the actions of offender

Modes of stalking in India-

  • Following the girl,
  • Sending unwanted letters or make phone calls that are not needed,
  • Trying to have a forceful communication,
  • Taking unnecessary pictures of a girl,
  • Physical assault and threatening to physically assault,
  • Visiting girl’s home for unnecessary purposes and standing outside her residence,
  • Sending unwanted gifts or presents,
  • Spreading rumours,
  • Stalking through social media and different apps.

Types of stalkers

  • Rejected stalker- Those who have personal grudges such as divorce, separation, etc. and in order to take revenge they follow someone, are known as rejected stalkers.
  • Resentful stalkers Those who follow or stalk someone in anger or past hatred are known as resentful stalkers
  • Heroic stalkers Those who follow or stalk someone in belief that they will get love, relationship, intimacy, etc. from the victim, so they are known as heroic stalkers.
  • Predatory stalkersThose who follow the victim in order to make plans for the attack and sexual harassment on the victim are known as predatory stalkers.
  1. Whoever commits the offence of staling shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.

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