Unwanted sexual activity by a public servant in Jammu and Kashmir, including sexually suggestive conduct and touching a woman in exchange of some benefit, will soon be punishable with imprisonment of not less than three years and fine as the state government has decided to amend provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Seeking comments and suggestions from government departments, institutions, public and other stakeholders to the draft Bills, a spokesperson of the state’s Law Department said the existing legislative provisions have been found to be deficient to check exploitation of women by persons in authority.
According to the draft amendment, any persons in a position of authority or in a fiduciary relationship, or a public servant who abuses such position or fiduciary relationship to employ physical or non-physical form of coercion to extort, request or demand sexual favours from any woman in exchange of benefits that such person is empowered to grant or withhold shall be guilty of the offence of “sextortion’’.
Defining sexual favour as “any kind of unwanted sexual activity ranging from sexually suggestive conduct, sexually explicit actions such as touching, exposure of private body parts to sexual intercourse, including exposure over the electronic mode of communication’’, the draft Bill makes it clear that “it shall be no defence that the sexual benefit was derived with the consent of the victim’’.
It further pointed out that any person committing such offence shall be punished with a fine and rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than three years and that may extend to five years. The draft bill describes the offence as “non-bailable’’ and “not compoundable’’.
Another draft amendment Bill proposes to bring request for sexual favour by public servants within the ambit of term “misconduct’’ under Section 5 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006.