Kerala excise commissioner Rishiraj Singh on Sunday said that a man who stares at a woman for over 14 seconds can be booked, giving rise to a debate in the state.
Addressing a public function organised by students in Kochi, Singh had said, “Most of us don’t know that an FIR can be registered against a man who stares continuously at a woman for more than 14 seconds. But not a single case has been registered in the state on this count.”
Emphasising on the increase in number of crimes against women in Kerala, Singh urged girls to be proactive. The top excise officer asked them to react instantly if anyone passed lewd comments or touched them inappropriately. He also beseeched them to follow up earnestly on the crimes committed against them.
However, not everyone has taken Singh’s 14-second ogle remark well.
State sports minister EP Jayarajan said the commissioner’s comment was in bad taste and asked him to brush up his law knowledge. “I don’t know from where he got this piece of information. He is trying to quote a law that is non-existent,” he said.
The twitterverse, too, did not take Singh’s remarks too kindly. Sample a few:
@NSMlive Agreed that girls shd be proactive.But the 14 sec comment could have been avoided— G.S Chandran (@ChandranGS) 16 August 2016
“I don’t know from where he got this piece of information. He is trying to quote a law that is non-existent,” Jayarajan said.
“There is no provision to book anyone for mere staring. If a man with his words, gestures or acts intends to insult the modesty of a woman, he can be booked under Section 509 of IPC,” said senior advocate CP Udayabhanu.
“What about men who wear sunglasses,” tweeted a user.
On the independence day, I am confused by 14 seconds rule set by Rishiraj Singh; how will I watch Olympics?— Dhanuraj (@dhanuraj) 15 August 2016
14 seconds is the appropriate window for lechery. It has been scientifically proven in the Vedas https://t.co/QL1CDYxqN5— Veena Venugopal (@veenavenugopal) 15 August 2016
However, Singh found support in one Twitter user:
What Rishiraj Singh told students shouldn't be a subject of trolling. His message, 'girls be proactive', is clear & you should be with him.— N.S. Madhavan (@NSMlive) 15 August 2016
Controversy is not new to Rishiraj Singh. In July 2015, he kicked up a row for not saluting the state home minister Ramesh Chennithala at a function at the state police academy in Thrissur.
Much to the government’s embarrassment, several newspapers flashed the picture of the senior officer sitting when the minister arrived before the passing out parade of police constables. Singh denied breaching the protocol.