A Kerala High Court Bench of Justice K Babu has observed that mere threat or abuse by a man towards a woman would not constitute the offence of stalking under Section 354D of the IPC. In that context, it was further said that, "A threat or abuse by a man towards a woman who is at loggerheads with him, as in the present case, would not attract the offence of stalking. The concern of the Legislature regarding the possibility of misuse of the penal provision is also relevant here."

Counsel MP Madhavankutty and Counsel Shijoy John Mathew appeared for the petitioner, while Counsel Adithya Rajeev, Counsel Sreedev U and Public Prosecutor Sanal P Raj appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the petitioner had approached the High Court, praying to quash the Final Report filed against him and all related proceedings. He had been accused of making repeated threatening calls to the respondent. The respondent also claimed that the petitioner sent her disturbing WhatsApp messages. As a result, the respondent filed a First Information Statement, leading to the petitioner being charged under Sections 354D (stalking) and 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.

The High Court analysed the pertinent provisions of the law, the legislative history and the parliament debates.

Subsequently, it was observed that "In order to attract Section 354-D(1)(i) of IPC, the prosecution has to establish that a man followed a woman and contacted or attempted to contact her to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman. The Section takes in acts revealing sexual interest or lewd acts of man. Any act whereby a man willfully contacts or attempts to contact a woman in such a manner as to damage the virtue that attaches to a female owing to her gender attracts the offence of Stalking."

To that extent, the Court observed that it was difficult to conclude that the petitioner had contacted the respondent intending to foster personal interaction. In light of the same, it was held that the allegations did not reveal the ingredients of the offence under Section 354-D of IPC.

Further, the Court observed that in order to attract the offence under Section 509 of IPC, the prosecution has to prima facie establish that the petitioner intended to insult the modesty of the woman in question.

Relying on the case of Basheer vs State of Kerala and Ramesh vs Sub Inspector of Police, the Court concluded that the allegations levelled by the respondent did not reveal the offence under Section 509 of the IPC.

Accordingly, the petition was allowed.

Cause Title: Jayaprakash PP vs Sheeba Revi & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Judgment