12th Oct 2018 09:10:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

While the #MeToo storm is blowing across the country like the Cyclone Titli on the East Coast, naming and shaming big names (one can expect more to surface in the coming days from almost all walks of life), it is unlikely that anybody will go to jail or face any punishment. Even in the case of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, against whom over 70 women made sexual assault and harassment charges over a period of 30 years, only six cases are on trial while Weinstein has disappeared from public life despite the fact US laws are more stringent than Indian laws. Identifying journalists, television actors and more, several women have blown the lid off old cases of sexual harassment — some dating back to the early 1990s — involving scribes, actors, comedians and writers. 
The moot question is to what extent these cases can be pursued and proved in a court of law. Under criminal law, the concept of limitation or a time bar applies in a very restricted manner and never in cases of registering  a complaint or first information report (FIR). An offence may have been committed several years ago, but the aggrieved can always register an FIR or complaint. There is no time bar under Sections 154, 155 and 156 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) for registering an FIR, however old the offence may be.
A major hurdle in starting a trial is that Sections 354A, 354C and 354D were introduced via an amendment in 2013 following the Delhi gangrape case. Many of the acts included as sexual harassment under Section 354A were not treated as offences under the IPC before the amendment. Therefore, prosecution for any act committed before 2013 which was not an offence earlier could be prohibited under the mandate of Article 20(1), which states that no one can be punished for an act that was not punishable when the said act took place. Effectively, it means that criminal law amendments which prescribe a heavier punishment for an existing offence or introduce new categories of offences which affects the substantial rights of an accused cannot have retrospective effect and will only apply prospectively. However, the movement can be a deterrent for future predators of women at workplaces.

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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