ANY person proven guilty of gossiping can spend up to a year behind bars, the Fiji Police Force said yesterday.
Police spokesman for the Northern Division police Constable Luke Rawalai made the comment amid a public outcry over earlier reports that a woman constable warned a group of female market vendors of the consequences of gossiping.
"We have received a series of complaints from vendors over this issue and it's really a waste of our time to solve these matters when there are more pressing cases to attend to," he said.
Constable Rawalai cited Section 213 of the Crimes Decree 2009 which stipulates that any intention of insulting the modesty of any person through utterances, gestures or sound, or exhibits is punishable under the charge of indecently insulting or annoying a person.
The Crimes Decree, the 44th decree of the administration, states the charge covers intrusion of a person's privacy by doing an act of a nature likely to offend his or her modesty.
"It does not directly mention gossiping but people can be charged for insulting the modesty of a person orally so gossiping too is included in it," Constable Rawalai said.
He said police had earlier issued the warning against gossiping after a brawl broke out among a group of female vendors.
Constable Rawalai said gossip was casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that were not confirmed as being true.