HC Asks Govt To Examine Concept Of ‘Sextortion’,Enactment Of New Law     

SRINAGAR — Internationally developing concept of ‘sextortion’ could be examined, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court said and asked the State to examine whether it requires to legislate a separate law or make necessary amendments in the existing penal laws or undertake a combination of both to create a “requisite deterrent effect” in the Society against the sexual exploitation of women in any form whatsoever.

“The internationally developing concept of ‘sextortion’ could be examined in the Indian context and to see whether the State is required to either legislate a separate law on the subject or to make necessary amendments in the existing penal laws or undertake a combination of both so as to create a requisite deterrent effect in the Society against the sexual exploitation of women in any form whatsoever, as has been done in the various South African Countries, Manilla, and other countries as also recognized by the United Nations,” a bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe said while hearing a Public Interest Litigation. 

“The proposed definition would have to include a sexual and a corruption component. It would involve a request- whether implicit or explicit- to engage in any kind of unwanted sexual activity and the person who demands the sexual favour occupies a position of authority, vis-à-vis the person who is abused,” the court said, adding, “The underlying idea is the element of quid pro quo where the perpetrator demands and accepts the sexual favour in exchange for a benefit that he is empowered to withhold or confer. The imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the  victim allows the perpetrator to exert of psychological pressure, which most significantly is not very different from that of monetary corruption.”

The court said that it is the duty of the State to ensure circumstances of emotional and physical security which inspire confidence in women to live freely and to ensure the Constitutional goal of equality by creating a level playing field for them in all circumstances. 

“It cannot be denied that prescription of a statute rendering the afore-noticed obnoxious acts as penal offences would go a long way in achieving this Constitutional goal so far as girls and women are concerned,” the court said, adding, “It therefore cannot be denied that it is absolutely imperative that the illegal acts, unwarranted demands and in appropriate contacts are give n a legal nomenclature, clearly defined and also made specifically punishable in law and that the critical vacuum in the legislation in this regard is immediately addressed.”

The court ordered that let the order be placed before the Chief Secretary of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to examine the above issues, and take appropriate steps. “Let a status report be placed before us before the next date of hearing.”

 

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