This article has been written by Shahil Rangra an engineer cum lawyer.
In today’s era of the Internet, our life is totally dependent on its use. Communication through online media has become so effective but at the same time, it has introduced new crimes, and among those cyberstalking and cyberbullying are the prominent ones. They are so dangerous that they often result in suicide. While cyberstalking is the initial stage that later results in.
Cyberstalking is well defined in the Indian Penal Code but Cyberbullying isn’t specifically defined. There are relatable sections given both in the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.
As per section 354D of the Indian Penal Code 1860- Any man who follows a woman and contacts her to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman. Who monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offense of stalking.
Cyberbullying on the other hand means bullying or harassing someone using the internet, social media, or any other electronic communication with an intent to degrade someone’s reputation.
Legal Provisions that deals with the Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying:
The laws under the Indian Penal Code-
Section 354D: Cyber Stalking
Section 354A: Sexual Harassment
Section 354C: Voyeurism
Section 499: Publishing false imputation about a person in public.
Section 503: Criminal Intimidation.
Section 504: Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace.
Section 507: Criminal Intimidation by an anonymous communication.
Section 509: Words, Gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty of women.
The laws under the Information and Technology Act-
Section 66A: Sending offensive information by using computer resources.
Section 66D: Cheating by personation by using computer resources.
Section 66E: Violation of privacy. Transmitting images of the private area of a person.
Section 67: Transmitting obscene material in electronic form.
Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences- It deals with the offenses of sexual assault concerning children.
Case Laws Concerning Cyber Stalking and Cyber Bullying
The major landmark cases of cyberbullying are as follows
1) Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan.
2) Ritika Sharma case.
3) Ritu Kohli case.
Case Study: Shibani Barik Vs State of Odisha, 2020
Facts: In this case, the deceased has committed suicide, who was the husband of the accused. The marriage between the accused and the deceased was solemnized on 21/02/2019. Prior to marriage, the accused was in a love relationship with a co-accused (Upendra), and even she continued such relation after marriage. Co-accused steamed intimate video of deceased and accused on Tik-Tok platform. This incident made the deceased lose his perspective and balance, and eventually, he committed suicide.
Principles of laws: the accused and co-accused in this case were charged with section 306 of the Indian Penal Code for abetment of suicide. The accused applied before the Hon’ble High Court under section 439 of the criminal procedure code.
The Hon’ble Court observed that the accused was seeking bail under section 439 Crpc concerning the offense involving section 306 IPC. The allegation against the accused is that she has put the victim in mental torture and such agony that eventually led him to commit suicide. In the investigation and from the witness statements recorded under section 161 of Crpc, it was found that the accused and co-accused both inflicted torture on the victim. From the statements, it is clear that the co-accused is responsible for the abetment of suicide. The role of the accused in such a specific incident is not yet clear. Hence, she was granted bail by the high court.
The Hon’ble court cited that, the TikTok video in the instant case has become the cause of such tragic end of an innocent life. Such videos with offensive content are on the prowl and gradually on the rise. Large numbers of people, especially the youths, both in rural and urban areas are vulnerable. Such kinds of acts are executed smoothly on digital platforms. Cyberbullying activity like in the instant case has reared its ugly head and swept away so many innocent lives through its ugly manifestation.
Tik-Tok videos that encourage pornography and explicit disturbing content are required to be properly regulated so as to save teens from its negative impacts. The government has the social responsibility to put some fair regulatory burden on the companies that are proliferating such applications. Certain sections of the Information and Technology Act i.e. 66E, 67, 67A which stipulate punishment for violation of privacy but are grossly insufficient. Though this act has imposed some obligations on the companies to take due diligence, India lacks a specialized law to address crimes like cyberbullying. Most of the investigation officers dealing with such crimes are not well trained and therefore they need periodic training to upgrade their skills. Further, improvement is required in cyber intelligence, cyber forensics, and cyber prosecution training.
Reporting such crimes
Crimes of cyberbullying and cyberstalking are new in this digital era. Victims can directly approach the police to register the FIR. He/she can also file a complaint directly to the Magistrate. There is an online mechanism to register complaints available by directly approaching the national cybercrime reporting portal. Toll toll-free number to file a Tele complaint is also available.
Cyberbullying is not specifically mentioned yet, maybe because its area is wide. It requires a more specific definition. Young children are on majority prone to its negative impacts, owing to their low emotional stability. More awareness camps should be organized to impart proper instruction to the youth. School academics syllabus must include such cybercrime awareness and prevention. Along with this, the parents’ role is crucial in monitoring their children’s activities and regulating them with care and guidance. As our life on such a high scale depends upon electronic communication, its pros and cons should be kept in mind. Proper awareness should be there to the public and that is the responsibility of the government. The government can show various programs in many ways with respect to cybercrime prevention and proper redressal of victims’ agony.