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SECTION 354A IPC - Indian Penal Code - Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment [1]


Last Updated: 01 Jun, 2024
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty


Table of Contents
  1. IPC 354A in Simple Words
  2. What is Section 354A and when is it Imposed?
  3. Punishment under Section 354A IPC for Sexual Harassment
  4. Bail in Section 354A IPC case
  5. How to File a Complaint under IPC 354A?
  6. What is the Difference between IPC Section 354 and 354A?
  7. POCSO Act on Sexual Assault on Children below 18 Years of Age
  8. Some Important Points for Women to keep in Mind
  9. IPC Section 354A related FAQs
  1. A man committing any of the following acts—
    1. physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
    2. a demand or request for sexual favours; or
    3. showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
    4. making sexually coloured remarks, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
  2. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
  3. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.


IPC 354A in Simple Words

According to section 354A of the Indian Penal Code, any man who engages in unwelcome and explicit sexual behavior, demands sexual favors, shows pornography against a woman's will, or makes sexually colored remarks can be punished with imprisonment or fine.

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Offence : Sexual harassment of the nature of unwelcome physical contact and advances or a demand or request for sexual favours or showing pornography


Punishment : Upto 3 years or Fine or Both


Cognizance : Cognizable


Bail : Bailable


Triable : Any Magistrate



Offence : Sexual harassment of the nature of making sexually coloured remark


Punishment : Upto 1 year or Fine or Both


Cognizance : Cognizable


Bail : Bailable


Triable : Any Magistrate



Section 354A of the IPC is designed to protect women from sexual harassment. Mostly, the laws in India are enacted equally for men and women. However, women are seen to be more targetted with certain kinds of crimes such as sexual harassment, rape, dowry, etc.

Section 354A IPC is one such law that is enacted for women safety. In this article, Section 354A is explained, along with the punishment and the bailability if accused of sexual harassment.


What is Section 354A and when is it Imposed?

Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code, defines sexual harassment.

If a person tries to touch a woman inappropriately, or makes unwelcome physical advances, or shows pornography against the woman’s will, etc. then such an individual can be accused / held guilty / punished for sexual harassment or molestation under Section 354A IPC.

What is Sexual Harassment as per IPC Section 354A?

Section 354A is a provision of the Indian Penal Code that defines and prescribes punishment for sexual harassment.

According to this Section, if a man commits acts such as unwelcome physical contact / sexual advances, demand / request for sexual favours, showing porn against will, making sexual remarks, etc. then he is said to have committed the offence of sexual harassment.

This section has been added to increase the safety of women, and if a person is found guilty under this section, he can be punished accordingly.


Punishment under Section 354A IPC for Sexual Harassment

In this section, the guilty person gets punishment in two ways, depending upon the kind of sexual harassment.

If the person makes physical contact and advances, or if he demands sexual favours, or if he shows porn against the woman’s will, then he shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or fine or both.

If a man is guilty of making sexually coloured remarks, then he shall be punished with imprisonment up to 1 year or with a fine or both.


Bail in Section 354A IPC case

This offence under Section 354A is under cognizable category of crime, in which the police do not require any warrant for arrest. In such cases, the police can immediately arrest the accused person.

Sexual Harassment under Section 354A IPC is a bailable offence and is triable by any Magistrate. This offence is not a compoundable offence in any way.


How to File a Complaint under IPC 354A?

If you want to register a police complaint against a person for sexual harassment under Section 354A of IPC, follow these steps:-

It is important to hire an experienced criminal lawyer in your city to help you file a complaint under Section 354A.

Visit Police Station:- You can go to the nearest police station and file a complaint either in writing or orally. For this, you are advised to provide all the necessary details of the incident, such as date, time and place of the incident, name and address of the accused, and the nature of the crime committed.

File an FIR:- Once you file a complaint, the police will register a First Information Report (FIR) FIR and start an investigation.

Medical examination:- The police may request you to undergo a medical examination to ascertain the extent of injury or harm.

Investigation:- The police will investigate the case and collect evidence to prove the guilt of the accused.

Arrest:- If the police find sufficient evidence, they can arrest the accused and produce them before the magistrate.

Trial:- The case will go for hearing, and the Court will hear the evidence presented by both the parties and pronounce its verdict.

It is essential to note that filing a false complaint under Section 354A of the IPC is a punishable offence. It is therefore important to provide only accurate information to the police and cooperate with them during the investigation.


What is the Difference between IPC Section 354 and 354A?

Both Section 354 and Section 354A of the IPC deal with the offence of sexual harassment, but there are some differences between them.

Section 354 of the IPC commits the offence of "assault or use of any criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty". Whoever conspires or uses criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both, the section says.

On the other hand, Section 354A of the IPC deals with the offence of "sexual assault and punishment for sexual harassment". It defines sexual harassment as any unwanted sexual behavior, including physical contact and escalation, demands or requests for sexual favours, showing pornography, etc. The punishment for sexual harassment under this section is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years (or two years, depending upon the offence), or with fine, or with both.


POCSO Act on Sexual Assault on Children below 18 Years of Age

The POCSO Act defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and covers various types of sexual offences against children, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault and sexual obsession involving children.

The Act prescribes stringent punishment, including imprisonment and fine, for those found guilty of committing sexual offences against children.


Some Important Points for Women to keep in Mind

  • When leaving your house, take your mobile phone.

  • Know the environment around you well and always be alert.

  • Avoid going to a deserted place late at night.

  • If someone stalks or harasses you, complain to the women helpline number.

  • Always save the emergency speed dial number in your mobile.

  • If any person ever molests you, then immediately dial 100 number and get help from the police.

By keeping some such things in mind, women can easily avoid crimes like sexual harassment happening with them. If something still goes wrong with you, then you can also file a complaint on the helpline numbers for women by the government.

All INDIA women in Distress - 181

National commission for women - 011-26942369/26944754

National Human Rights Commission-011-23385368/9810298900

How to Avoid being Accused under Section 354A IPC

  • Do not make any kind of lewd or obscene comment to, or regarding any woman.

  • Do not send any obscene messages to women on mobile/ social media.

  • Keep proper distance from women in crowded places like bus, rail etc.

  • Do not do indecent acts like gesturing or whistling at women.

Such crimes must be avoided by keeping the above things in mind. If any woman is being wronged, then help her. It is often seen that in our society, women are not able to raise their voice against crimes like sexual harassment due to fear of defamation. Therefore, we should all come together to stop crimes like sexual harassment and molestation. You must hire an experienced criminal lawyer for help in such situations.




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Frequently Asked Questions


Is 354 bailable or non bailable?

IPC 354 is not a bailable offence. This means that an accused person cannot be released from jail without permission from the court. This offence is punishable by imprisonment of up two years, or imprisonment of up seven years. It can also be punished with a fine.


What is Section 354D IPC?

The Indian Penal Code (IPC), section 354D, deals with stalking. Stalking is a crime that involves unwanted and persistent attention, monitoring or contact. It mainly targets women. 21 Oct 2023


What is 354A 509 IPC?

Section 354 deals with physical violence or assault, while Section 509 is concerned with words, gestures, or actions that insult or offend the modesty or dignity of a female. 30 Nov 2023


What is 354A 506 IPC?

Section 354 criminalizes the use of criminal force or assault on a woman in order to offend her modesty; Section 506 punishes criminal intimidation, and Section 509 criminalizes words, gestures, or acts meant to insult a woman's modesty. 20 Oct 2022