These days it has become quite very common that people are receiving
harassing phone calls. These calls include threat, foul language or often such
words that hurt other's dignity. It goes more serious because the person on
other side is completely a stranger. These calls are considered as criminal
offence in India, therefore there is a need to make people aware to report such
cases as soon as possible.
A report of 2020 from Truecaller says, "It has been noticed that in India, 8 out
of 10 women receive inappropriate or harassment calls atleast once in every
week. New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune tops the list. At public places,
restaurants or shopping centres, women usually give their mobile numbers to the
counter boy which can be misused. With regards to taking action towards it, only
12% of women reports such to the police authorities while rest 82% simply blocks
the number that is not a solution to it.
Blank calls also constitute harassment. These are made with the intention of
just bothering the person.
What Is Harassment?
Harassment is something that people often get confused while understanding. Any
sort of virtual or physical act that disturbs or mortifies other person, or
threatens one in any manner constitutes harassment. It is to be kept in mind
that hurting someone like this is a wrong and people must try not to commit such
Person committing harassment can be made liable both for civil or criminal
offence. Court takes into consideration several factors such as one's previous
record, before deciding as to what charges should the defendant be charged with.
Identification Of Harassing Phone Calls
Not all undesirable phone calls come under the definition of harassment.
Following are the conditions under which an undesirable phone call constitutes
offence of harassment:
- Somebody annoys or threatens you by continuously calling you.
- Making statements, comments or proposals that are offensive or
- Continues to converse without revealing his actual identity.
- Shows abusive or belittling telephone behaviour.
Effects Of Harassing Phone Calls
Unwanted harassment calls have a long list of consequences. Sometimes the
harasser is a person we know. This leaves a feeling of humiliation or betrayal
by the harasser.
A survey was conducted by Truecaller in 2019 on 2150 women ageing between 15 to
35 years. The report showed up that 4 out of every 5 women described that they
feel irritated or in pain through these phone calls. 1 in 3 women reported that
it left a psychological impact on their health that they felt ill at ease most
of the time. Also, the number of victims are rising yearly.
Remedies In India
In the first place, the victim must report about the act to the police and file
a complaint against the harasser. Certain information such as recording the
voice, time and date of the phone calls will work as a good support to the
police for catching up the harasser. An FIR must definitely be submitted by the
victim on receiving phone calls over a long period.
Several provisions are made under statutes in India so as to punish the accused
and provide justice to the victim.
The list of provisions:
Vishaka and others vs State of Rajasthan (Bhanwari Devi case) 
- Section 354A of Indian Penal Code:
Under this law, any person who asks for sexual favour or makes expressive
sexual comments shall be held guilty of offence of sexual harassment and
will be punished with imprisonment upto 3 years or fine, or both.
- Section 354D of Indian Penal Code:
It states that if a person often proceed towards a women for a sexual
relationship despite her being disinterested shall be punished with
imprisonment of 3 years with fine.
- Section 506 of Indian Penal Code:
This clause states that if a person is guilty of the offence of criminal
intimidation shall be subjected to 7 years imprisonment along with fine.
- Section 507 of Indian Penal Code:
Anyone who attempts to frighten or terrify a woman through unidentified
communications will be punished with 2 years imprisonment in adding to
punishment given under section 506.
- Section 509 of Indian Penal Code:
It states that if anyone insults your humility on a phone call, then in such
case he will be punished with imprisonment of 1 year in along with fine.
Bhanwari Devi, a woman of lower caste who worked as a development project worker
was ferociously gang raped by 5 men from upper caste while trying to prevent a
child marriage in her village. She knocked the doors of police station but they
did not look into the matter. For the sake of justice, she then approached the
trial court from where she was again denied as there was no medical proof
On behalf of Vishaka, women's right activist filed for a PIL in Supreme Court of
India. This incident highlighted numerous other harassment cases that occurred
in our day to day life and thereafter, need for implementation of strict rules
was felt necessary.
The apex court observed that sexual harassment of women infringes their
fundamental rights guaranteed under Art 14, 15, 19 & 21 of Indian Constitution.
In order to prevent such wrongs, Supreme Court established certain rules that
were to be mandatorily followed. These rules and guidelines were to be followed
by every employer as well as the institutions. The centre and state governments
were made bound to adopt such measures to ensure the following of guidelines and
to take strict actions against those violating it.
Position In Other Countries
Harassment over phone calls is charged differently in different nations
depending on the provisions of that particular nation.
As per the Texas Penal Code, ringing a phone constantly with the intention to
harass the person on other side of phone call is punishable with imprisonment
upto 180 days and a fine upto $2000. If the harasser is accused of same offence
previously, he will be given additional imprisonment of 1 year and fine upto
According to Section 264 of Criminal Code, contacting someone regularly
either to harass or to threaten another will end up him being sentenced for 10
years in prison.
- Act no 45 of 1860
- AIR 1997 SC 3011
- Act of 1856
- R.S.C 1985, c. C-46