The Delhi High Court has directed the police to treat complaints of stalking seriously after a young woman was crippled for life on being shot by her alleged stalker for rejecting his advances.
While upholding the man's conviction and award of life sentence by a trial court for attempting to murder the woman, the high court said had the police taken her complaints of stalking seriously, what happened to her "could have been averted".
Observing that cases of stalking were on the rise, a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Chander Shekhar directed the Commissioner of Delhi Police to ensure sensitisation of all police stations to treat complaints of such incidents seriously.
The court refused to show any sympathy to the convict, Arun Kumar Mishra, saying it would do "immense harm to the justice system and undermine the public confidence".
"Cases of stalking are on the rise and in this case the appellant (Mishra) shot the helpless victim at close range in her back making her life and the life of her family miserable.
"Every citizen has a right to live in dignity with a feeling of sense of security. The State must ensure that all citizens, particularly old women and children, do not live in a sense of fear and insecurity," the bench said in its 22-page verdict upholding the trial court's decision.
According to the police, the incident occurred on the morning of December 15, 2010 when the woman was on her way to a relative's home on her scooty.
When she had stopped at a red-light, the convict suddenly came from behind and forcibly sat on her two-wheeler and ordered her to start moving if she did not want to get shot, the police had said.
On reaching near Jaipur Golden Hospital in Northwest Delhi, Mishra asked the woman to marry him and threatened to shoot her if she disagreed.
She stopped the scooty and asked Mishra to stop chasing and harassing her, but he took out a gun and shot her in the back, the police had said, adding that the public apprehended the convict and handed him over to the cops.
The doctors who treated her had told the court that the bullet had hit her spine, paralysing her from below the waist for life. According to the woman's complaint, Mishra started stalking her since 2008 when she was working in a Gurgaon-based company. As a result of the harassment by him, she had left the job and started teaching aerobics near her home.
However, Mishra had traced her and started making calls threatening to harm her and her family. Fed up by his advances and threats, one-and-a-half month before the incident, she had lodged a complaint against him at Miya Wali police station, she had told the court.