Threat to property
Extortion threat (A threat call demanding money which amounts to extortion and noncompliance of which may amount to damage to life and property)
Is one threat call sufficient to seek legal aid?
Yes. You need not wait for someone to threaten you twice or thrice for it to constitute a threat call and then seek legal aid. One call which is threatening in nature and makes you feel unpleasant is enough to allow you to seek help from the law and tackle the situation.
Here are the laws that one can take the assistance of when faced with threat calls:
Receiving threat calls – Reach out to the given numbers
181 – Women Helpline
This helpline number is solely meant for women and is known as the Abhayam helpline. There are female counselors who answer calls made to this helpline. The counselors take down the harasser’s number and forward it to a police constable at the helpline center itself. The police constable tracks down the caller and warns the caller of strict action. If the matter is deemed to be serious, a police complaint may be filed against the harasser as well.
100 – General Helpline Number
Now, this helpline number can be used by men as well as women. If the threatening call requires immediate attention as it has created immense and immediate fear in your mind, you can simply dial 100 which is the general police helpline in the country. Let the police know about the details of the caller and the police will contact the caller and put in efforts to nab him.
Approach the police on receiving a threat call
The police are willing to accept complaints from victims of threat calls. Before you make a complaint to the police, make sure you keep a proof of all the threatening calls. Do not delete the number from your call record. If the threat calls are not continuous but periodic, the victim can lodge a complaint in the ‘general diary’ of the police station having jurisdiction in your local area.
A general diary is very much a valid document and a victim may not worry about its importance with regard to an FIR. A general diary is basically the police station’s record of all wrongs taking place within its jurisdiction and also the action taken by the police. If the threat calls are constant, a victim can lodge an FIR in the police station.
The police officer, on receiving such a complaint, may then either call the harasser and threaten them with severe consequences to stop with the threatening calls. The police may also start an investigation, taking aid from the service provider of the phone number and nab the harasser.
Private police protection
If you are facing an imminent threat to your person and property, you can approach the police for private police protection. Charges need to be paid to the police for availing their protection service in the form of a uniformed security official for hourly shifts. It costs INR 2089 to hire a police sub-inspector for an 8-hour shift and hiring a police guard for an 8-hour shift will cost INR 1139.
How to lodge a complaint against threat calls
Making threatening calls to someone is a criminal offense in our country, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with this offense effectively through various sections and prescription of punishment.
Section 506 – Criminal Intimidation
Any person charged with this section will face either imprisonment extending up to 2 years or an imposition of fine or both. If the threat over a phone call was of causing grievous hurt, death, destruction to property by fire or committing a scheduled offense under IPC will invite a harsh punishment of imprisonment up to 7 years. The law is gender-neutral, and men can file a complaint against the one harassing them over a phone call as well.
Section 354(D) – Stalking
Come 2013, and criminal law amended itself to the changing times and situations of the country. Prior to 2013, understanding of the offense of stalking was limited to physical stalking, but technology has its own ways and means of imposing itself negatively on people. The Criminal Law Amendment, 2013 inserted Section 354 (D) to IPC, making “electronic” stalking offense. This implies that if any person tries to contact a woman, to foster personal communication with her, without her willingness and desire, he commits stalking. A person charged under this section may be imprisoned for a term extending up to three years, and payment of a fine is also imposed.
Section 509 – Act hurting the modesty of a woman
If you are a woman and your harasser has called you and has uttered words which insult your modesty, then you can file a complaint to the police under Section 509 of the IPC, and your harasser will face a punishment of either imprisonment amounting to a year or imposition of fine. Barkha Dutt had filed an FIR to the police on receiving death and rape threats after the JNU incident. The police tracked down the harasser and charged him under this section.