Section 354 of the IPC, deals with outraging the modesty of a woman. Every day we hear some news about a crime against a woman. Such a crime can be rape, assault, grievous hurt, acid attacks, outraging her modesty by using criminal force, etc. Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a vital provision that addresses the issue of outraging the modesty of women. It is a powerful weapon in the fight against assault and criminal force inflicted upon women. 

*The word ‘modesty’ is not defined under the IPC but the Supreme Court in the case of Raju Pandurang Mahale v. State of Maharashtra , defined the ingredients that constitute the essentials of the Modesty of a Woman

EXAMPLE- Pulling a woman, removing her Sari, requesting her sexual favors, all these actions are intended to hurt her modesty.

What is Section 354 IPC?

Whoever assaults or uses criminal force on any woman intending to outrage her modesty or knowing it to be likely outraging her modesty shall be liable for punishment under this section. The language of Section 354 IPC focuses on offences committed against women and aims to protect their modesty and dignity. It does not encompass offences committed against men in the same manner. 

Section 354 IPC talks about assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty & under its domain, also includes-

  • Section 354 A- Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment
  • Section 354 B- Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe
  • Section 354 C- Voyeurism
  • Section 354 D- Stalking

Section 354 A- Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment

  1. Physical contact and advances including specific sexual gestures
  2. A demand or request for any kind of sexual favours
  3. Showing pornography against the will of a woman
  4. Making sexually created remarks

Some other Examples of Sexual Harassment; Unwelcome touching, Suggestive comments, or jokes. Unwanted invitations to meet in private or for sex, Intrusive questions about a person’s body or private life, Unwanted/vulgar text messages or E-mails, Sending Pornography


Rigorous Punishment can vary from 1 year up to 3 years or a fine or both.

Section 354 B- Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe

assaults or uses criminal force upon another with intent to disrobe her or force her to be naked, is guilty under Sec.354 B, and is liable for a prescribed term of punishment.


Imprisonment which can vary from 1 year up till 3 years, can be extended to 7 years and shall also be liable to a fine.

State of Punjab v. Major Singh, AIR 1967 SC 6

In this case, the accused interfered with the vagina of a seven-and-a-half-month-old child The Punjab and Haryana high courts held that the modesty of the victim could not be outraged as the victim was of tender age. However, in an appeal to the Supreme Court, the apex court feelings of the woman against whom such an act is committed. Moreover, where such an intention or knowledge has not been proved, the proof of the fact that the woman felt her modesty was outraged does not constitute an offence, as an intention or knowledge on the part of the accused is the essential ingredient

Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the accused was convicted by the Supreme Court and was awarded rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years. A fine of rupees 1000/- was to be paid by the accused out of which rupees 500/- was paid as compensation to the child.

Section 354 C- Voyeurism

Voyeurism in simple language means the practice of gaining sexual pleasure while watching others naked or while they are engaged in some sexual activity. According to Sec.354 C- any man who captures or watches the image of a woman when she is privately engaged with someone else and she does not want to be seen by anybody else in that particular moment, such a person is guilty of Voyeurism


In the first conviction: with imprisonment for a term of min. 1 year which can extend up to 3 years and also a fine.

In the second conviction: with imprisonment for a term of min. 3 years which can extend up to 7 years and also a fine.

Section 354 D- Stalking

Any man is said to have committed the offence of stalking who-

  1. Follows a woman or tries/attempts to contact her repeatedly despite an indication
  2. Monitors any form of electronic information used by her like the Internet, e-mail, etc

Exceptions of Sec.354 D

  • If stalking is done with the purpose and responsibility of preventing and detecting the crime by the state
  • If its permitted by the law or any other person /condition/requirement imposed under any law
  • If such conduct was reasonable and justified in a particular circumstance


  • On the first conviction, with imprisonment for a term that can extend up to 3 years and a fine
  • On the second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of a term which can extend up to 5 years, and a fine.

In both Voyeurism and stalking, one need not have direct contact or physical touch with the victim. It is very clear from the above definition and examples, that in the age of Information and Communication Technology, both these offences have breached the barrier of Technology. In the present context, both these offences are witnessed in cyberspace in an alarming proportion and can be easily regarded as offline offences.





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