IAWJ Member, Hon. Gita Mittal’s Court Order Leads to the Criminalization of Sextortion in Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir, India | Based on IAWJ Member, Chief Justice Gita Mittal’s court order, the legislature has recognized sextortion as a criminal offense in Jammu and Kashmir punishable with  3-5 years of jail time plus a fine. Jammu and Kashmir has become the first Indian state to recognize sextortion as a separated criminal offense.

The Bill “Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Sexual Offences) (Amendment Bill), 2018,”  has been signed off by the State Administrative Council headed by Governor Satya Pal Mallik. Chief Justice Mittal’s court order states that 

“the concept of sextortion means extortion of a sexual favor rather than that of a property or valuable security… The assailant does not necessarily force the victim to concede to a sexual favor, but the victim is coerced into relenting to concede that favor because of certain compulsion or fear of loss/deprivation/injury to. … Sextortion is thus an institutionalized system of blatant abuse of power.”

Chief Justice Mittal recommended amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act of 2006. “Even laws traversing the area of sexual offences due to abuse of authority fall short of addressing the magnitude of the issue. Corruption laws in India are … [applicable] to public officials. Thus, gender-based violence laws are yet to contemplate situations in which the victim yields, albeit not voluntarily, to the coercive power of a corrupt ‘authority’.“

As a result, a new provision has been added to the Ranbir Penal Code penalizing sextortion (Section 354E).

“A person commits the offence of “Sextortion”, if such person being in a position of authority or a fiduciary relationship, or being a public servant, ‘abuses such authority of fiduciary relationship or misuse his official position to employ physical or non-physical forms of coercion to extort or demand sexual favors from any woman in exchange of some benefits or other favors that such person is empowered to grant or withhold’.”

Other laws and acts have been updated to reflect this change. An amendment is believed to have been introduced to the State’s Prevention of Corruption Act of 2006.

With this accomplishment, Chief Justice Mittal, is one step closer in her fight to strengthen legal safeguards for vulnerable destitute women.