Eve Teasing is a serious social menace. In certain cases, it leads to ragging in education institutions. Recent past witnessed so many suicides by junior students as a consequence of the ragging by the senior students in medical and engineering colleges in particular and drew the attention of Supreme Court, which laid down certain guidelines to curb/eradicate the menace of ragging.
The expression 'eve teasing' has not been defined in the Code (i.e. I.P.C. or Cr.P.C.). however offences U/S 294 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 are identical to eve teasing as det5ained below :-
Section 294 of the IPC deals with an offence of causing annoyance of others by doing obscene acts or singing, reciting or uttering obscene song, ballad or words in or near any public place, which is punishable with an imprisonment for three months or with fine or with both. The word 'obscene' has not been expanded for the reason that the notions about obscenity are bound to change from time to time and depend upon the class of persons whose susceptibility i8nto the matter is involved. The test of obscenity is whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is deprive and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences. The words uttered must be capable of arousing sexually impure thoughts in the minds of the hearers which must cause annoyance to the person against whom they are uttered. "Annoyance to others" is an essential ingredient as it must be established by the prosecution that annoyance has been caused by the accused to others. The word "others" includes women also and the words "public place" means "a place where the public has a right to go or have a right to enter or have a limited right of access." The Section has wide application to all such acts forming part of the substance of the offence and addressed to the public at large, provided these cause annoyance. Whenever a girl or woman feels annoyed by any obscene act, or song, or words can take recourse under this Section. The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable and triable by any Magistrate.
Outraging the modesty of a woman (Sec.354). The word modesty is not defined in the Code. The dictionary meaning of the word 'modesty' is, "a state of being free from undue familiarity." The word "Outrage" means "an act of extreme violence or cruelty."
Modesty is the attribute of female sex which she possesses it from her very birth. Section 354 of the IPC reads as follows: "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".
The offence, thus, consists of two essential ingredients, the commission of either assault or use of criminal force on any woman with the intention and knowledge that it would outrage the modesty of a woman. Assault and criminal force have been separately defined in the IPC under Section 350 and 351 respectively and are punishable as substantive offences in themselves; the offence Under Section 354 IPC is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable and triable by any Magistrate.
The scope and application of this provision is very wide and covers women of any age, whether she is young or old , sleeping or awake, intelligent or imbecile. The acts of molestation could also be brought under the purview of Sections 294 and 354 of the IPC. As such the word molestation has not been defined any where in legal terminology, but in general parlance, it means 'causing intentional annoyance involving a certain degree of physical contact by use of force with a view to harm the other person.' In its simple form, molestation would cover cases of utterances of obscenity, lewd jokes and singing of vulgar songs and should generally be covered by Section 294 of IPC. In its aggravated form, where it is accompanied by gestures indicating the threat of force or us of force, it should be covered under Section 354 of the IPC, as such an act invariably lead to the outraging the modesty of a women.
In order to sensitize the police officers at the ground level towards offences against women, CID, Crime Branch compiled a Compendium on Crime against Women. The Compendium contains the following:
1. Recent amendment of IPC/Cr.P.C.
2. CB Circular No.12/2012 regarding implementation of “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012”
3. Police Circular Order 338/2013 pertaining to prompt investigation and prosecution of crime against women.
4. Police Circular Order 343/2013 regarding Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) pertaining to prompt investigation and prosecution of crime against women
Necessary instructions regarding Prompt investigation and submission of charge sheet within sixty days and extension of time in exceptional and specific cases have been mentioned in the SOP.