Voyeurism Under the Indian Penal Code – Section 354C
Imagine a woman went into a mall where she selects a dress and asked for a trial of it, then she walked off to the trial room and changed her dress and some hidden camera was fixed over there which captured her image while changing the clothes, this is a crime which is called as voyeurism. In our country, every citizen has been given the right to maintain their privacy for to protect from distress, embarrassment, social harm, etc, also any disturbance in privacy leads to affect the human dignity, affects reputations, etc. Therefore, our constitution provided the right to privacy under the fundamental right of the citizens.
ORIGIN OF VOYEURISM
The introduction of Section 354C took place in the amendment of 2013 of criminal law. It was positioned as an offence after the very shameful and inhumane crime gang rape of 23-year-old girl committed, then justice Verma Committee introduced the criminal amendment bill which contained the report indicating the right to privacy and more focus on protecting and preserving it and treating it to be the right to personal development and freely visiting any area.
In the case of R vs Jarvis, the landmark judgement was held by the supreme court that the teacher Jarvis to be held guilty of the offence of Voyeurism as he had contravened the polite and rules of the school as well as he had infracted the trust, contract of his duty and capturing the videos that contained the centre of attention on the female students which exploited their privacy.
MEANING OF VOYEURISM
Voyeurism in literal sense refers to viewing and watching for seeking gain or pleasure from it. It is an offense against women in which perpetrator takes photographs, snoops around or disturbs the privacy of the women. The Indian Penal code provides the definition of Voyeurism under Section 354C along with its punishment.
According to the code, Voyeurism in an offense in which the perpetrator commits it by performing either of the two activities such as –
- Snooping around the Images-When any male snoops around any woman at the time when such woman is involved in the private moments or performing any activities which are indulged in maintaining the privacy and not having knowledge about being watched, then such male person is committing voyeurism within the scope of meaning under this section.
- Capturing Images- When a male person takes the images of any woman where the image is of a private kind in nature and such woman bot having any knowledge about such act, shall be considered an offence of voyeurism within the meaning of the section.
It creates hurdles in the maintenance and preserving of privacy involved with their bodies, also it involves the accused to command over the vulnerability or disclosure of their bodies in which victims are not aware of it. Voyeurism is an offense which contains the activity which leads the victim unaware about it and therefore along with the above elaboration about the crime Voyeurism, no consent of the victim also must be placed in the activity in order to consider the crime of Voyeurism under Indian Penal code,1860.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF VOYUER
The crime voyeurism contains the major role of Voyeur, who plays a very vital role in the crime of Voyeurism and for better understanding the concept of this offense we need to understand that who is Voyeur and what does the role he plays. Voyeur is a criminal or an accused of the crime voyeurism who commits the crime against women. Some of the features and role of the voyeur-
- Voyeur is a male or a man who commits an act against women’s privacy right.
- He observes the private act of any women for gaining or benefiting the pleasures and enjoyment.
- He does not involve in such private act when he observes such act for gaining pleasure.
- A voyeur is a person who captures the image or video of the woman without any permission or providing knowledge to such a woman.
- Voyeur monitors the private act very covertly and such act includes the private moments or sexual activity.
There are some popular examples of the act which Voyeur conducts in order to commit the crime of voyeurism and we often heard this as it happens nearby us, that are Spying through windows or keyholes, viewing male or female genitals by means of hidden cameras, planting cameras in the washroom, bedrooms, changing rooms, etc where the peoples can be trapped easily while maintaining the privacy.
ESSENTIALS OF VOYEURISM
The main essentials of the crime of voyeurism are the following elements which are required to be proved by the victim:
- Any man commits the act of Voyeurism against women- The crime of voyeurism must be committed any man, the code provides that this offence must be done by man then only he could be considered an accused of this offence also he must commit such act against any woman.
- Viewing and recording the act or any image of the woman- The crime of voyeurism must contain the either of the two act that is watching the private activities of any woman or recording or capturing the images or videos of the woman.
In the case of State vs Unknown, 2017, it was held that proving that the accused had recorded the video of the victim and it is very essential that such video contains the obscene nature.
- Expectations not being observed- The crime must include the zero expectation or no information to the woman about the offence, in other words, a woman must not be aware of being viewed or not having any knowledge that while doing any private act of her any person had taken any kind of private pictures of her.
- For gaining pleasure- The offence committed by any person must have done for purpose of gaining the pleasure as if he had viewed or observed any woman pursuing any private activities. Any person watched or observed any woman while doing any private acts and the sole purpose of such a person behind his observation is to benefit a kind of enjoyment or gratification.
The punishment of the offence of Voyeurism is given under Section 354C of the code. It provides that if any person is found guilty under this section of the code shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year and may be extended to three years and also shall be punishable with a fine. Also, if any person gets second-time certitude by the court and held accused subsequently then he shall be punished with the imprisonment of not less than three years and may be extended to seven years and shall also be liable for fine.
Voyeurism is an offence which not only violates the right to privacy of the woman also it exploits and harms the dignity and personal development of woman. It also smashes the trust of a woman on the public places and disturbs their harmony. Indian Penal code,1860 provides the punishment for this offense as this is a very shameful offence which is not acceptable as it also disrespects the woman.