THE VILEST FORM OF SOCIAL MEDIA: AN ANALYSIS OF “BOYS LOCKER ROOM” FROM A LEGAL PRESPECTIVE

Introduction:

“Bois Locker Room” [here in referred as “Boys Locker Room”] was recently busted for glorifying gang rape. It was a private chat group of teenagers. Teenage boys and girls have reportedly been sharing pictures of girls, some as young as 15-16, objectifying them, morphing their pictures, using abusive language, and talking about ‘gang-raping girls’.
These kinds of incidences’ are creating threats and degrading women in every way possible. The use of Social Media in this scary manner may lead to the end of life for another person. The screenshots of the chats were leaked and chairperson of Delhi Commission for woman Swati Maliwal writes a letter to Delhi Police Cyber Crime Branch to look into this matter and start the investigation. The Delhi cyber cell police filled an FIR under appropriate laws regarding these heinous crimes happened on social media group. The police take self cognizance of the matter under section 154 of the Cr.PC as the crime reported was of Cognizable in nature. The police have arrested two adults, the ‘Boys Locker Room’ group administrator, and an active participant in the group. One juvenile has also been apprehended and sent to a correction home. More than 24 students connected with the case have also been examined. A PIL was filed in the Delhi High Court seeking a Special Investigation Team or the Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the incident of “Boys Locker Room”. A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh said the cybercrime cell was already investigating the case and disposed of the petition.
“The Locker Room c ase is just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of chat rooms openly discussing sex in India. But the saddest part is no one will ever get down to the bottom of such scandals. Big schools cannot afford to get tainted. Schools are big business,” says

Pavan Duggal, an expert in cybercrime.

Analysis of Laws:

Every single activity of a member of the “Boys Locker Room” are felonious under several laws, for the check and balance of these social media activities, we have, Information Technology Act which punishes the offenders who infringe the privacy of the other person; the Indian Penal code has a provision which makes a person liable for heinous crimes like Sexual harassment. Beneath mentioned laws are to be framed against the offenders.

Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act):

IT Act to provide legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication commonly referred to as electronic commerce. The Act is for the prevention of the privacy of the common people and punishing individual who sends any information which is offensive in nature.
The sharing of such an objectionable picture of girls and sexually abusing them on social media groups is punishable under Section 66E and 67B. The very same act also punishes the member who is not the active in the group communication; however, they didn’t say anything sexually abusive on the group; it makes them equally guilty because they still choose to be part of such group and if they are innocent they should leave the group or should have taken action against all of them who are spreading such sexual messages on social media. Laws are explained underneath;

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Section 66E says that, whoever person intentionally or knowingly captures or publishes the image of the private area of any person without the consent of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years or fine up to two lakh or with both.

Section 67B says that, whoever publishes, promotes, and distributes material in electronic form which depicts children engaged in a sexual act or facilitates abusing children online shall be punished with the imprisonment up to five years and fine up to ten lakh.

Social media group members are sharing the morphing pictures of the girls; this was illicit as if someone has got access to such obscene  pictures and shares it without the consent of that person then the person who circulated such pictures shall be made liable under Section 72;

Section 72 states that, any person who has secured the private information of any individual without his consent and discloses that information to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment up to two years or with fine up to one lakh or with both.

The police took the cognizance and commence the investigation and sent notice to the social media application to provide the data of Boys Locker Room members and they investigate residence of the alleged offenders and also confiscate the accessories which are used by them to perpetrate the crime. These Investigation powers to police are provided under Section 69, 76, and 80.

Section 69 says that, the state government directs any agency to intercept monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received, or stored in any computer resource and the reason for the same to be recorded in writing.  Any person who not assists the agency to investigate shall be punished with imprisonment for up to seven years and also liable to fine.

Section 76 says that, confiscation of any accessories related to the commission of crime during the process of Investigation; it is on the discretion of the court to remain to confiscate the accessories collected or releases it to the owner.

Section 80 says that, any police officer without a warrant not below the rank of inspector may enter any public place and search and arrest any person who is suspected of having committed or of committing any offense.

Indian Penal Code, 1860

The IPC is the official criminal code of India. It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law. This Code consolidates the whole of the law on the subject and is exhaustive on the matters in respect of which it declares the law.
The Boys locker room is the group of the 15-16 members who have intentionally or knowingly distributes or circulates the sexual content on social media. They are creating mischief on the social media platform by doing such illegal acts. The group is considered as an Unlawful assembly whose members have a common object to circulate the sexual content or .using abusive language and talking about ‘gang-raping girls’. These acts are punishable under Section 141, 142 and 143, which are explained beneath;

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Section 141 says that, if five or more person has a common object to commit any mischief or any other offense is designated as unlawful assembly. The assembly is also unlawful which is lawful when assembled but subsequently becomes unlawful.

Section 142 says that, any person who aware of the facts which shows any assembly as unlawful and joins that assembly or continues in it then it said to be a member of an unlawful assembly.

Section 143 says that, whoever is the member of the unlawful assembly shall be punished with imprisonment for up to 6 months or with fine or both.

The member of the group circulates the obscene pictures of the girls and talking of gang-raping girls, these statement and pictures are circulated are creating fear in the mind of the general public and inciting the members of the group to gang rape girls. The use of such sexually abusive language outrages the modesty and harms the reputation or lowers the character or cause mental agony to the woman. These sorts of acts are punishable under Section 509B, 505(1) and 499 of IPC, which are explained beneath;

Section 509B says that, whoever by means of telecommunication device makes or initiates transmission of any statement or image which is obscene with intent or knowledge to harass or to cause mental agony to a woman, shall be punished with imprisonment up to two years and fine.

Section 505(1) says that, whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement which creates fear or alarm to the public and incites any person to commit an offense against the state, shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years or fine or with both.

Section 499 says that, whoever by words either spoken or intended to be read or publishes any imputation with the knowledge that such imputation will defame such person, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to two years or fine or with both.

Juvenile Justice (care and protection of Children) Act, 2015

JJ Act establishes a criminal justice system for children, who are in conflict with the law and are accused of committing offenses, in accordance with the values underpinning the Constitution. It has the objective to provide for the minimum age of criminal capacity of children and to provide a mechanism for dealing with children who lack criminal capacity outside the criminal justice system.
The Boys Locker Room group involves the members who are below the age of 16, and they are committed the act which is in conflict with the law, i.e., they are to be tried by the Juvenile Courts, and the board has the power to deal exclusively with all proceedings. In the instant case the child apprehended by police was sent to the child welfare police within twenty-four hours.  The normal proceedings will not be instituted against the child. The members are from the different age groups, the proceedings of the child and adults shall be conducted separately. All such provision is explained underneath;

Section 6 says that, any person has committed the offense when he was below the age of 16 years, then such a person will be treated as a child under this act during the process of inquiry.

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Section 10 says that, as soon as a child alleged to be in conflict with the law, such a child shall be placed under a juvenile police unit or child welfare police who has to produce the child before the board within twenty-four hours.

Section 23 says that, no joint proceedings of the child in conflict with law and person not a child and the provision of the proceedings as provided in the Chapter VIII of the CrPC cannot be applied against the child.

The juveniles, who are part of the group, are apprehended by police and being quizzed at their home in the presence of their parents and members of NGOs. The High court further order

to place the child under the rehabilitation center.

Section 39 and 53 states about the process of the social integration and service to be provided by the institutions registered for child care under this act, respectively.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act)
The sharing of morphing and obscene pictures of underage girls by the members of the groups could also be a violation of the POCSO Act.

Section 11 says that, the sexual harassment of a child is, by threatening him or her to use any form of media, to show any part of the body of the child or the involvement of the child in a sexual act.

Section 12 says that, whoever commits sexual harassment shall be punished with imprisonment for up to three years and fine.

Conclusion

The locker room incident is deeply disturbing. It’s so shameful how they are objectifying women. The groups involve both boys and girls and they are talking about gang-raping girls. Incidents related to crimes like sexual harassment, morphed images, and rape threats are common in the cyberspace, and the victims often suffer in silence. It is time to employ measures that prevent such crimes from happening or at least minimize the suffering of the victims. Although criminal complaints can be filed against the perpetrators, it is often avoided. There is an immense need to bring policy measures that help to mitigate the sufferings of the woman and also make social media a platform to discuss the new opinions and ideas. The measures are to be taken by seeing that the fundamental rights of the individual are not been violated and the rights of the victims are also get protected; but it is important to take a step before the social media platforms turn into a boy’s locker room. There is also a core role of the parents to guide their children about cybercrimes and its serious implications. Parents need to be super alert so that their children remain within control. However, such cases must be reported so that the law can take its course. Such cases must be discussed; there need to be proper platforms for meaningful conversations. And investigations must reach their logical end. If this does not happen, more Locker Rooms will emerge.

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