(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)
Women have become increasingly worried about their safety in New Delhi after the gang rape and torture of a young woman aboard a moving bus last December. Not for nothing do people call the city India’s rape capital. Beyond the leers and the crass words that men often direct at women walking on the street, fresh fears have arisen over stalkers.
The Lok Sabha passed a bill to toughen penalties on rape and sexual assault on Tuesday, and among its penalties, it would make stalking punishable by jail time. But first-time offenders will be able to avoid being detained till investigation is complete, as the offence is bailable.
That, of course, disappointed many people. “1st time stalkers get bail, so they get out and harass, and maybe attack the woman they were stalking?,” journalist Padmaja Joshi wrote on Twitter. @Neilima wrote, “1st time stalker getting bail will probably lead on a second attack. Only, it’ll be a lot worse than just stalking her.”
But what happens if someone falsely accuses someone of stalking? If the offence is non-bailable, police have the right to arrest or detain the accused stalker before they begin investigating the case, said Vijay Kumar, a lawyer who argues cases before the Supreme Court.