Complaint Against Harassing Phone Calls

How Do You File a Complaint Against Harassing Phone Calls

Online Legal India LogoBy Online Legal India Published On 07 Feb 2023 Category Consumer Complaint

The current generation is frequently the target of unsolicited and harassing phone calls in which one person belittles, threatens, or otherwise violates another's dignity. The fact that the person on the other end of the phone is absolutely unknown makes it more serious. Such calls fall under the definition of a criminal offence in India. Hence they must file a complaint against harassing phone calls as soon as possible to the appropriate authority.

In India, about 8 out of 10 women report receiving harassing or inappropriate phone calls at least once per week, according to a research by "Truecaller" in 2020. Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi, and Pune are the major cities affected. Indian women regularly give out their phone numbers when filling out paperwork or in public places like malls and restaurants. However, just 12% of women reported the calls to the police and the remaining 88% simply blocked the number when it came to file a                           complaint against harassing phone calls. The use of blank calls is considered harassment. Most of these calls are made in an anonymous manner with the express intent of intimidating or bothering a person.

Police sources claim that incidences of phone call harassment significantly rose after Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 (which dealt with penalties for transmitting offensive messages via communication services, etc.) was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2015. In one instance, a college student received numerous vulgar text messages and calls from an unidentified number. Later, the cops discovered that the number belonged to a classmate of hers. According to a poll, the caller was typically someone the victim knew.

How to identify a harassing phone call

Not all unsolicited phone calls fall within the definition of "harassment." The following conditions must be met for an unsolicited phone call to qualify as harassing:

  • Caller wants to threaten or annoy you by phoning you nonstop.
  • Making remarks, ideas, requests, or proposals that are offensive or disgusting.
  • Continuing the conversation while remaining anonymous.
  • Abusive or disparaging telephone behaviour
  • Avoiding eye contact, playing ominous music, or exhaling heavily while annoying.

Effects of harassment calls on women

In 2019, Truecaller performed a poll of 2150 women from 14 different cities, with ages ranging from 15 to 35. Nearly four out of five women reported feeling irritated or angry as a result of the harassment calls, according to the research. One in three women reported that they were psychologically impacted by such calls and felt scared, anxious, or troubled. Further evidence that such calls are impacting more women comes from the fact that the affected numbers keep rising each year.

Remedies in India

The victim of phone call harassment must report the incident to the police and file a complaint against harassing phone calls in the general journal as a first step. The victim can record information to aid the authorities in identifying the perpetrator, such as the gender of the caller, the tone of his voice, the date and time of the phone call, the details of the conversation, and the caller's estimated age. The victim must submit an FIR if the harassing phone calls go on for an extended period of time.

The following provisions apply in India for charging a harasser:

Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code

According to this section, anyone who solicits sexual favours or makes sexually suggestive comments commits the crime of sexual harassment, which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and/or a fine.

Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code

This section states that a person will be sentenced to three years in prison and a fine if they repeatedly approach a woman to start a sexual relationship, notwithstanding her lack of desire.

Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code

This section states that anyone found guilty of the crime of criminal intimidation faces a sentence of up to seven years in jail and/or a fine.

Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code

A two-year prison sentence will be added to the punishment stipulated under Section 506 of the IPC for anyone who attempts to intimidate or threaten a woman through anonymous communications.

Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code

This section states that if someone insults your modesty over a phone call, they could face up to a year in jail and a fine.

Women helpline numbers

  • The 181 (Abhayam Helpline) is just for female use. Female counsellors are available to take the call and record the harasser's information. The police will then proceed to locate him and file a case against him after receiving the information from the helpline centre.
  • Another nationwide women's helpline number is 1091. All a woman needs to do to report phone harassment is call this number, and the police will then take the appropriate measures.
  • Both males and females can use the general number 100 to report a harassing phone call.

Position in other countries

Harassment over the phone is prohibited by the Federal Communications Act, specifically by 47 U.S. Code 223 and various state statutes, which also outline the legal remedies and enforcement procedures.

Penal Code 653m PC forbids harassing phone calls and messages in California, including those that are vulgar, persistent, or threatening. Such offences carry a maximum 6-month sentence in prison and a $1,000 fine.

The Texas Penal Code states that making anonymous calls or having the phone ring continuously with the aim to harass, abuse, or irritate another person is a crime that is punished by up to 180 days in prison and up to $2,000 in fines. If the caller has already been charged with harassment, he will face additional penalties, including a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

According to Section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada, interacting with someone frequently with the aim to harass or threaten them is punished by a minimum of ten years in prison.


Even though there are rules for filing a complaint against harassing phone calls, there are alternative ways to deal with these problems. Keeping personal information private can reduce the likelihood of harassment from strangers, random stores, and social media. Another strategy used by the majority of Indian women and girls is to hang up the phone, block the number, and designate it as spam. All of these solutions, meanwhile, are merely short-term fixes that won't prevent the harasser from harassing someone else in the future. Therefore, it is strongly advised that such a harasser be reported as soon as possible and that serious legal action be taken against them to stop it from happening again.

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