No charge sheet in Stalking offence for 5 months, released from custody...

No charge sheet in Stalking offence for 5 months, released from custody by police on same day

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Question: I had sent a casual message to a girl on WhatsApp. There was nothing objectionable in that message. She asked me not to message her and abused me, saying that she would file a complaint with the police. I told her that she was abusing me and that I would sue her. Later, she filed an FIR in the police station and I was taken into custody. But I was released on the same day by the police and I was told that I had been booked under Section 354-D of IPC. I was taken to the court. Now, a period of five months has passed; and there is no chargesheet filed in the case as yet. I am not sure whether the FIR was actually filed in this case. Please advise.

Answer: Section 354-D of IPC defines and penalises the offence of “stalking”, and it is reproduced as under:

354-D. Stalking.—(1) Any man who—

(i) follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or

(ii) monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,

commits the offence of stalking:

Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that—

(i) it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or

(ii) it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or

(iii) in the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

(2) Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term 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 may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

It may be pointed out that the first offence under Section 354-D is punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years and it is a cognizable and bailable offence. Therefore, it is within the powers of the police to arrest the accused and release him on bail on the same day without taking him to the court. The police has the power to grant bail in the case of the bailable offences.

In view of these reasons, it is quite possible that an FIR might actually have been registered against you of the said offence.

Moreover, there is no specific limitation period for filing chargesheet in the court in such a case, though usually a period of five months is long enough to file chargesheet in such cases.

Therefore, you will have to make enquiries with the concerned police station to find out whether an FIR was actually registered against you and also the current status of the investigation, i.e., whether or not chargesheet has been filed against you.

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