The recent emergence of the “Bois Locker Room” Instagram group has shocked the country. In the group, adolescent boys conversed with disgrace and pervertedness on underage girls. They circulated morphed private pictures of the girls without the consent of the girls. The conversations were objectifying and result from a lack of sexual education, deep-rooted patriarchy and toxic masculinity.
The Delhi Police arrested an 18-year-old, who was the administrator of the group. Similarly, the identity of a 15-year-old member of the group came to light. The Police allowed him to stay with his parents, as stated by Anyesh Roy, the Deputy Commissioner of Cybercrime Police.
Statements by the Delhi Police
The official statement reads about the 18-year-old, “He has told us that he had created the group in the first week of April and added a close group of friends from Noida and Delhi. He then made some of them admin of the same group. Those new admins further added their friends from their schools and coaching centres and colleges in Delhi and NCR.”
The official statement reads about the 15-year-old, “The juvenile justice board is currently not open for these cases. So, we are letting him be with his parents on the condition that he wouldn’t leave the city without our permission.”
Regarding the other members of the Instagram group, Roy said, “The devices of the identified members of the group have been seized and sent for forensic analysis. We are ascertaining the roles of other members.”
Further, the recently uncovered Snapchat texts by a girl posing as a boy differ from the Bois locker room incident. A Police officer said, “This Snapchat conversation about assaulting a girl had nothing to do with the Bois Locker Room group. It is a separate conversation, on a separate platform. Due to its sensational nature and due to its availability in different student groups, it got mixed up with the ‘Bois Locker Room’ case.” However, this does not downplay any of the disgraceful remarks shared on the Instagram group. Neither does this overlook the immaturity and irresponsible nature of the members of the group.
Petitions before the Delhi High Court
Two petitions have appeared before the Delhi High Court. A public interest litigation plea filed seeks for the Court to order an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation. They argue that the family background of the boys is highly influential. So, to ensure complete justice, either a Special Investigation Team or the Central Bureau of Investigation should investigate the matter.
Further, an interim petition to make social media websites liable for the existence of such degrading content was filed. It states that the boy’s locker room case involves fake users pushing corrupt content towards young adults and kids. It also mentioned that these members of society are highly impressionable. The arguments made are that Instagram profits from some fake users who boost their advertisement revenue.
Legal Provisions drafted against Cyber Sexual Harassment
The natural question which arises is, what legal recourse can cyber sexual harassment victims take? Given below are the offences drafted against cyber and online sexual harassment with relevance to the boy’s locker room case.
Indian Penal Code
Section 509- Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman:
This section says that anyone who intends to insult the modesty of women will be punished. The insult can be through words, sounds, gestures, or through exhibiting an object which invades the privacy of a woman. The punishment is a maximum of one year of simple imprisonment and a fine.
Section 354 C- Voyeurism: If a picture of a woman doing a private act distributes without the consent of the woman, then the punishment for that person is minimum imprisonment of 1 year which could extend up to 7 years and a fine.
Section 499- Defamation: Defamation comprises the ruining of a reputation of a person or any imputations which involves the intention to hurt someone. The investigation conducted by the Delhi Police revealed that the members of the group attempted to hurt the underage girls. Their lewd remarks on the girls’ appearance show the nasty mindset behind their intentions.
Information Technology Act, 2008
Section 67: Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form- Maximum imprisonment of 3 years.
Section 72: Breach of Confidentiality and Privacy- Leakage of any records, information or documents without the consent of the owner of the documents is punishable with a maximum imprisonment of two years.
Section 66 E: Punishes sharing of any private area of a person without their consent, with a maximum imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of up to 2 lakh rupees.
Section 67 B: Includes the punishment prescribed of a maximum imprisonment of 5 years and a 10 lakh rupees fine for creating texts or images which depicts children in an obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner.
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012
Section 11 (5): Sexual Harassment: The sexual harassment of a child includes the use of real or morphed images of the child containing a part of the body of a child or the child in a sexual act.
Section 12: Punishment for Sexual Harassment: Whoever commits sexual harassment upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.