From shoes to chilli powder: Is an amendment to IPC needed?
New Delhi: In 2008, when an Iraqi Broadcast journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw a shoe at the then American President George W Bush, he did not know that he is setting a trend around the globe which will be imitated by various means like shoe, ink, eggs and now the new in the list is chilli powder.
The chilli powder attack on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has prompted a debate whether there is a need to amend Indian Penal Code and make hurling of shoe, ink, chilli powder and similar material at public servants an offence. "Yes, the government should seriously consider amendments to the IPC and deal with these offences as a separate entity to deter people from such offences. If we fail to protect the dignity of our PM and CM, how can we expect to protect the dignity of common citizens," said Ehtesham Hashmi, a Supreme Court lawyer.
In India, Jarnail Singh, a journalist threw a shoe at the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference in 2009 in Delhi. In 2016, a woman threw ink on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. In 2014, ink was splashed on Baba Ramdev's face by a man at the Constitution Club in Delhi.
The authorities have always found it tough to tackle with the menace since most of these items, which could be used as a weapon later, cannot be scanned at the security check. The man who threw chilli powder at the Delhi CM carried it in a tobacco pouch.
"Since politicians often attend public meetings, this menace cannot be easily tackled. There is no provision in IPC to book someone for throwing shoe at someone. A case is registered according to the nature of injury. It's practically not possible to read someone's mind if he intends to throw the shoe he is wearing or ink from the pen he is carrying at a politician," said a senior police officer.
This lacuna seems to be exploited by those seeking either publicity or wanting to highlight their issue.