FOR REPEAT OFFENDERS First Stalking Offence Made Bailable in Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012
SP, RJD and JDU had opposed making every offence of stalking non-bailable Courts have discretion to grant bail
New Delhi: The dilution of a Bill aimed at protecting women is back in focus after Haryana BJP chief ’s son Vikas Barala, held for allegedly stalking a woman, walked out on bail from the police station last week.
Barala was arrested on Saturday after the daughter of an IAS officer in Chandigarh accused him and his friend of stalking her. But he was able to walk out of the police station on bail the same day because back in 2013, the opposition had stymied the Centre’s move to make any incident of stalking a non-bailable offence.
As things stand today, the first offence of stalking is “bailable” – implying the accused need not be produced before a court for seeking bail but can walk to freedom from a police station itself. Any subsequent offence of stalking is ‘non-bailable’, meaning court will have discretion to grant an accused bail.
This, however, was not how the erstwhile UPA government had planned – it wanted every offence of stalking be considered as non-bailable. The Justice Verma Committee set up in the aftermath of the gang-rape in Delhi in 2012 had recommended that stalking be introduced as a non-bailable offence with one to three years in jail as punishment. It was accepted by the UPA government. This was also seconded by a Parliamentary Standing Committee. A Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance was introduced in 2012 to put this into force, however, just before a Bill was to be introduced in Parliament by the then home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, members of the opposition, l i ke the Samjawadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and JD (U), at an all-party meeting voiced their opposition to the provision, saying it could be misused against men.
This prompted the government, in consultation with all political parties, to tweak the provision regarding stalking. In a Bill introduced in Parliament subsequently, the first offence of stalking was made bailable while any subsequent offence was made non-bailable with enhanced punishment of up to five years in jail.