Hrithik Roshan-Kangana Ranaut row: Can a woman be tried for stalking? Here's what the law says

In light of Hrithik-Kangana controversy, know what does law say if a woman is found guilty of stalking a man

The infamous spat between Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut reached a whole new level when the Koi Mil Gaya star took to Facebook to reveal his side of the story on Thursday. Asserting that he had never met the “lady in question one on one” (Kangana), he said there was no trail left behind the alleged 7-year long, passionate affair between the two high profile celebrities.

Hrihik also argued how a “well meaning and probably necessary social bias towards women” has left him helpless in defending himself. The actor also wrote that there were 3000 one-sided mails in question which either he has sent to himself or the woman in question had sent to him. The actor hoped that the cyber crime department will end the mystery behind the e-mails.

The Dhoom 2 star’s 29-page police complaint against Kangana that he lodged in April is now in public domain via news channels. Supposedly, if it is proven that Hrithik’s assertion was, in fact, true and it was the Queen star who relentlessly pursued him with thousands of emails, will it be possible for the law to take action against her on the grounds of stalking Hrithik?

After the horrifying December 16 gangrape case, the government amended the Indian Penal Code adding a host of laws including stalking a punishable offence. According to the law, any man who follows, contacts, tries to foster an interaction with or monitors a woman could be charged with stalking. IT also includes the provision that if a man monitors a woman using an email or any other form of electronic communication, he commits the offence of stalking. A single incident of such behaviour, after the woman has expressed her disinterest, can result in the aggressor being charged under section 354D IPC, that is, stalking. The offence is punishable by upto three years of imprisonment in case of first conviction, for  subsequent convictions, it is punishable by upto 5 years of imprisonment.

However, the underlining factor here is that only a man could be charged with stalking. Apparently, the law has not taken note of the possibility of a woman stalking a man. Had it been the man stalking via emails, his act would have fallen under the purview of law.

This leads us back to the same set of basic questions – is stalking always considered as a man’s arena where he is the perpetrator? Can a woman never be guilty of stalking a man? Does the Indian law not have any provision of penalising a woman if she is the one who is pursuing a man? It is yet to be seen how the whole incident unfolds, however, the larger question remains why only a man, and not woman, can be tried for stalking.

Here’s the full text of the law:

Any man who—

  1. 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
  2. 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—

    1. 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
    2. it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
    3. 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.