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Provisions in the Indian Law

Introduction

The Criminal law Amendment Act, 2013 came into force from April 3, 2018. The Amendment was made in light of the Delhi gang-rape and ensuing protests in 2012 which brought to the knowledge of the citizens the position and condition of women in the society. Soon after the incident, a committee called the Justice Verma Committee was appointed to suggest amendments in the criminal law. The report which was submitted within 29 days highlighted the lacunae in the law and implementation and made a number of suggestions for their improvement. Naturally, the amendment contained a number of women-related additions and modifications. One of such inclusions was that of the offence of Voyeurism. Voyeurism was inserted into Section 354 under clause C of the Indian Penal Code.

It often happens that when an offence of Voyeurism transpires, the people are uninformed of how to take the right measures. Knowing the sections and provisions in the Indian law which the accused can be prosecuted under can be of great help. Very often, even the Police are ignorant of which sections are to be applied. We hope this article helps in making you aware of the sections which can be referred to in case you ever need them.

Section 354 C of the Indian Penal Code

According to Section 354 C, any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being 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 not be less than one year, but 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 shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

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 ordinarily done in public.
  2. Where the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.

This section punishes anyone who commits the offence of Voyeurism. However, this offence although is cognizable, it is a bailable one. Hence, it is very easy for the offender or accused to acquire bail without much effort. This gives the offender the time to remove the voyeuristic evidence which may be with him and consequently leads to a low conviction rate as is very often if not always, seen today.

Section 66 E of the Information Technology Act, 2000

Another legislation which can punish the offenders of Voyeurism is the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Amendment of 2008 made an addition of Section 66 E into the Information Technology Act. Section 66 E of the

Act reads:

Punishment for violation of privacy –

Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.

Explanation -For the purposes of this section-

  1. "transmit" means to electronically send a visual image with the intent that it be viewed by a person or persons;
  2. "capture", with respect to an image, means to videotape, photograph, film or record by any means;
  3. "private area" means the naked or undergarment clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks or female breast;
  4. "publishes" means reproduction in the printed or electronic form and making it available for public;
  5. "under circumstances violating privacy" means circumstances in which a person can have a reasonable expectation that;-
    1. he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being concerned that an image of his private area was being captured; or
    2. any part of his or her private area would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether that person is in a public or private place. ]

This Section can be used as an additional section while framing the charges of Voyeurism. Another advantage of this section is that it is non-cognizable and bailable. However, this section of the IT Act covers a much wider aspect of privacy and does not specifically mention Voyeurism, but it still can be used in cases of Voyeurism.

Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000

Another Section which can be used in cases of Voyeurism is Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, which is read as follows:

67. Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.
Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

This Section as well is non-cognizable and bailable. It is a general observation that both the above sections of the Information Technology Act 2000 pertaining to Voyeurism is non-cognizable and bailable. This does not allow the police any scope for investigating the accused. Even Section 354 C of the Indian Penal Code, although it is cognizable, is non-bailable. Bail is almost always granted to such voyeurs because even the judiciary is unaware of the seriousness of the crime.

Section 67 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000

Another section is Section 67 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and is as follows:
67A. Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form.

Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

At last, we find a section concerned with the offence of Voyeurism that is cognizable and non-bailable. Nevertheless, it is to be noted that this section is concerned only with the offenders who transmit sexually explicit material. Therefore, the only capture of any material is not punished under such a section. In the month of January 2005 a landlord, 55-year-old Mohan Kulkarni installed hidden cameras in rented rooms occupied by college girls. He was arrested on Tuesday after the girls lodged a complaint against him. A raid on Kulkarni's premises led to the confiscation of three web cameras, a TV set, a video switcher and cables, which went right through to Kulkarni's bedroom. The police sought to prosecute him under Section 67 of the IT Act but as there was no transmission of material, the section was useless. This was before the coming into a place of the Criminal Amendment Act, 2013 which added the Voyeurism section. But the new section seems adequate as well, as mentioned above.

Conclusion

  1. By and large, instances are occurring in India because of the inherent defect the existing law of India. One of the biggest tragedies as far as the legislation in independent India is concerned is that India does not have a dedicated law to protect privacy.
  2. All these sections can be used in case of any occurrence of Voyeurism. The most important step is to inform the police and follow the steps mentioned in our article ____. This article will keep you in the know if any voyeuristic offence happens with you.

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