THE VILEST FORM OF SOCIAL MEDIA: AN ANALYSIS OF “BOYS LOCKER ROOM” FROM A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
The Author of this blog is Mr. Rahul Lalwani of Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad
“Bois Locker Room” [here in referred to 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 filed 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.P.C. as the crime reported
was of cognizable nature. The policehave
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 case 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 provides 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:
Section 66E says
that, whoever 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 lakhs or with
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
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.
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. Power of confiscation is provided under Section 69, 76, and 80.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
The IPC is
the first and only 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 distributed or circulated 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.
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 reputationor 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.
Juvenile Justice (care and protection of Children)
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 thus to be treated as juvenile for the
purpose of inquiry (Section 6), and they 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 provided in the JJ Act and
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 for the purpose of social
integration as provided under Section 39 and 53.
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
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. The
act of sexual harassment of child is define under Section 11 and Section 12
provides for the punishment for such act of sexual harassment.
This incident is deeply disturbing. It’s so shameful how
some 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.
 Section 66E, 67B, 72, 69, 76, &
80 of Information Technology Act, 2000
 Section 141, 142, 143, 509B, 505(1),
& 499 of Indian Penal Code, 1860
 Section 6, 10, 23, 39, & 53 of
Juvenile Justice (care and protection of Children) Act, 2015
Section 11 & 12
of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.