• Stare at a woman for more than 14 seconds and you might land in jail: Kerala bureaucrat

    August 16, 2016

    The Kerala Excise Commissioner Rishiraj Singh made a bizarre statement, that if a man stares at a woman for more than 14 seconds, he can land in jail.

    According to Mr Singh, if a man is found staring at a woman for more than 14 seconds, a case can be filed against him. Whether Mr Singh knows that no such law exists in the country’s IPC or Constitution or not but social media has been abuzz with the bizarre statement made by the bureaucrat.

    Singh made the statement in good spirit and upholding the importance of safety of women in the country, just that quoting a statement as law out of thin air did not go down well with a lot of people. Singh was addressing a group of people at an event in Kochi about women’s safety when he made the statement. Further, Singh also emphasised on how important it is for women to learn martial arts as a life skill. He prompted them to report about situations which they feel outrage their modesty. He also urged women to keep small knives and pepper sprays handy.

    Supreme Court Lawyer K V Dhananjaya who spoke to India Today about the incident called it a “mindless” statement to make. “There is no such provision in any law of this country and there cannot be such a mindless provision of law in any other country of the world. Period.”

    Although his 14-second rule is preposterous, Singh’s overall remarks are important to heed in a state which records a large number of sexual assault cases against women. Kerala might have a healthy sex ratio, but its record is very patchy.


    Whether Mr Rishiraj Singh was serious or comical or simply melodramatic, we do not know. But he must watch out before making such statements. He should not overstep his position as an Excise commissioner and comment on something that is likely to invite questions over his statements. Although he was highlighting the importance of safety of women and emphasised on the importance of self-defence arts as life skill, yet he should refrain from making such statements, which will only invite ridicule. 

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