Boys will be boys, when will they become men.
We have all heard about the incident at the “Boys Locker Room”. And how it took a few brave girls to stand up against this misogyny and expose the people involved. The police has started the investigation.
I wrote this to make you aware of all the laws pertaining to such acts and the charges under which these people will be booked.
Table of Contents
- What is Boys Locker Room?
- Offences under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)
- Offences under Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act)
- Offences under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO)
- Offences under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
- Role of Juvenile Justice Act
- Doctrine of Lex Specialis
- Punishment for involved women
It is an Instagram chatroom formed by boys from Delhi, aged 16-19. In this chat room, boys shared pictures of underage women, morphed their photos and slut-shamed them, passed sexually inappropriate comments where they objectified these women. They have also threatened to leak nude pictures of the girls who are trying to come forward.
On 3rd May, screenshots of the group chat went viral when one girl posted it on her Instagram story.
People all over India have been sharing this news and the outrage has caused the Police to take action. One of the boys, a 15 year old has been taken into custody and the rest are being tracked.
Another screenshot of a chat between two boys on Snapchat has been circulating including comments about rape but it is not a part of this case.
The Delhi Police has initiated the process of filing an FIR against the school boys. They will be charged with the following offences
Section 499 lays down that whoever by their words, either spoken or written or uses gestures which make a claim that might harm their reputation has committed the offence of Defamation.
It is both a civil and criminal wrong, punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 2 years, fine or both.
Section 463 defines forgery as, whoever makes any false document or electronic record or part of it with the intention to cause harm to any person is said to have committed forgery. This act is punishable under Section 465 with imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or fine or both.
Section 471 speaks about using a forged document as genuine. Not only the forger but any person who has a reason to believe or has definite knowledge of such a document to be a forged one, shall be punished equally. These sections make sure that the forgers and people sharing or using such forged documents are held accountable.
Section 503 says that whoever with the intention to harm or cause injury threatens the victim, his property, reputation or any other person he has interest in, has said to have committed the offence of criminal intimidation. The threat must be communicated to the victim either verbally, in writing or through gestures. If there is no intention to cause harm, one cannot be booked under this section. The punishment for this is mentioned in Section 507 of IPC.
Section 507 dictates that whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation by anonymous communication or taking precautions to conceal their identity shall be punished for a term which may extend to two years.
Section 509 lays down that whoever with the intention to insult the modesty of a woman says anything or makes a gesture or sound or intrudes on the privacy of such a woman shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend for a year or with a fine or both.
With relevance to privacy of the girls mentioned above, the boys can be charged under Section 354D which includes stalking, collecting their photos. As well as under Section 354A(4) which is sexual harassment in which a man makes sexually coloured remarks.
Section 66E punishes whoever publishes a visual image of a person in print or electronic form which causes the violation of privacy of the person with imprisonment of upto 3 years of and/or a fine ranging from 2-10 lakh rupees, or with both.
Section 67 lays down that, any person who publishes or transmits material in electric form which is lewd or appeals to the sexual interest or if the publishing of this material corrupts people who will read, see or hear the material shall be punished for a term which may extend to 3 years and with a fine which may extend to 5 lakh rupees for first conviction.
Section 67A punishes, whoever publishes or transmits or causes to publish or transmit material in electronic form which contains sexually explicit acts shall be punished for a term which may extend to 5 years and a fine which may extend to 10 lakh rupees for first conviction.
Section 67B prescribes the punishment for publishing or transmitting material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form.
Anyone who publishes or transmits any material in electronic form which depicts children engaged in sexually explicit acts shall be punished for a term which may extend to 5 years and a fine which may extend to 10 lakh rupees for first conviction.
Section 14 lays down the punishment for using child for pornographic purposes.
Anyone who uses a child for pornographic purposes will be punished for a term of not less than 5 years and a fine as well for first conviction.
Section 15 punishes for storage of pornographic material involving child (Section 15)
Anyone who stores or possesses pornographic material in any form involving a child, fails to destroy or report it to an authority and with the intention to share it will be fined not less than 5,000 rupees for first offence.
According to Section 2(c), “Indecent representation of women” means the depiction of the figure, form or part of the body of a woman in any manner which is derogatory or belittling, or corrupts the public morality.
According to Section 4, no one should make, sell, circulate or distribute any photograph, pamphlet, paper, writing, film, painting , which contains any indecent representation of a woman. The punishment for this offence is imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of 2,000 rupees for first conviction.
Minors do not get away with committing any offence. They are booked under the Juvenile Justice Act 2015.
They can be arrested and the arrest must be made by the Juvenile Police Unit. But if it is made by a regular police officer, the child shall immediately be handed over to the Juvenile Police Unit.
The child arrested is kept in a special home or observation home, which implies that the child can never be kept in regular jail.
Within 24 hours of the arrest, the child must be presented before the Juvenile Justice Board. It is then at the discretion of the JJB to either detain or release the child on bail.
According to Section 15(f), a juvenile can be released on probation of good conduct and placed under the care of an institution for not more than 3 years.
Section 16 states that a juvenile cannot be sentenced to death or given life imprisonment unless the offences committed are very serious.
Section 18 states that a juvenile cannot be charged or tried for any offence with a person who isn’t a juvenile.
Doctrine of lex specialis states that if two laws govern the same situation, a law which is more specific in this case will be applied and not the general law.
For e.g. in the case of Sharat Babu Digumart Vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, the court was of the opinion that the accused wouldn’t be charged under the sections of the IPC but would be charged under the sections of the IT Act.
Therefore, the boys in this case will be charged under the Section 67 and Section 67A of the IT Act.
India is the second largest user of the internet in the world. Social media has become a new avenue to spread awareness , which is how the post went viral.
More and more cases are surfacing with the latest one regarding a Girls Locker Room.
Women (regardless of their age) too will be punished under the IT Act and POCSO Act.. This is due to the gender neutral approach of the provisions under the IT Act and POCSO. The sections of the IPC such as Section 463, 465, 471, 499, 500, 503, 507, 509 are gender neutral. So all the girl participants of this group who have actively commented on the pictures or taken part in the defaming conversation, will be charged and punished without any reservations.
This kind of behaviour and mindset needs to change. Laws are there to make sure the guilty don’t go free. If any such incident has happened with you, come forward and take action.
- CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1222 OF 2016. ↑