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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Aman.Sharma@ times­

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.

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