#BOYSLOCKERROOM: DELHI POLICE, WOMEN’S COMMISSION TAKE NOTICE ,START PROBE.
Class 12 Student Was Admin Of “BoisLockerRoom” Chat, Arrested.
New Delhi: A Class 12 student, above 18, was arrested today for starting “Bois Locker Room”, an Instagram group on which obscene messages and morphed photos of underage girls were shared. The teen studies in a Noida school and sat for the Class 12 exams this year.
The Delhi Police have taken a schoolboy into custody after initiating a probe against the Instagram chat group “Bois Locker Room” (boys locker room) where photos of underage girls were being shared and objectified.
The teen, who is a student of a reputed Delhi-school, has identified 20 more boys, who were the participants of the said group. The perpetrators reportedly study in class 11 and 12, and spread across 4 to 5 schools in the national capital. Speaking to IANS over the phone, Anish Roy, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Cyber Crime, said, “We have asked Instagram to share the details of the members and admin of the said group, including their names, IP addresses etc.”
BOYS LOCKER ROOM :CHAT GROUP OF DELHI TEENS GLORIFYING GANG RAPE BUSTED ON TWITTER
Leaked screenshots of the private Instagram chat group kicked up a storm over rape culture in India after numerous boys were allegedly seen sharing photos of underage girls, objectifying them, and planning ‘gang rapes’.
The incident came to light after a girl from south Delhi shared a screenshot on social media, exposing the said group and scores of similar groups.
She wrote, “A group of south Delhi guys aged 17-18 types have this is group named “boy’s locker room” where objectify and morph pictures of girls their age. 2 boys from my school are a part of it. MY FRIENDS AND I ARE FREAKING OUT THIS IS SO EWWW AND NOW MY MOM WANTS ME TO QUIT IG.”
The girl also shared the screenshot of the list of participants of the group and that of their chats where they could be seen sharing pictures of girls and passing comments over them.
The Delhi Commission for Women too swung into action and issued a notice to the Delhi Police and Instagram over the issue.
“I saw a screenshot of the “Boys Locker Room” Instagram group. This is a clear example of a gruesome criminal and rapist mindset,” Delhi Commission for Women Chief Swati Maliwal said.
“We are issuing a notice to Instagram and Delhi Police. All the boys in this group should be arrested,” she added.
The ‘shock’ is shocking
As the screenshots of ugly conversations of Bois Locker Room began to emerge on Twitter, many expressed shock over the language, the sexualisation of underage girls as well as the fact that they were But if the locker room boys talk mostly about girls’ breasts, the big boys of IT cells are obsessed with women’s vagina. Every other day, there’s a Twitter hashtag targeting the genitals of the mother of the person in whose name the attack is trending. But these rarely draw anyone’s attention — be it of Twitter authorities, the Indian police or the government. It’s part of men’s everyday conversation to refer to a mother or sister’s vagina; men’s abuses directed at other men are centered on telling them they rape their mothers and sisters. planning to rape a girl.
Why Did the Police Register a Case Here?
With hundreds of boys from south Delhi, the group was allegedly used for sharing photos of underage girls, objectifying them, and promoting rape culture, a user on Twitter revealed on Sunday, 3 May.
The boys allegedly shared morphed photos of underage girls, body shaming and slut shaming them.
While the comments and discussions are a matter of grave concern and require correction of some form, the legal consequences are likely to relate to the sharing of private photos and morphed photos of girls on the group.
The Delhi Police have reportedly registered a case under provisions of the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act), and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In addition to these, the sharing of images of underage girls could also be a violation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO Act).
The police were able to register a case even without any of the girls coming forward to file a complaint, as at least some of the potential offences involved are designated as ‘cognizable offences’. In Indian criminal law, anyone who comes to know of a cognizable offence can file a complaint with the police, who have to register an FIR in such cases.
The police themselves can register an FIR for a case dealing with a cognizable offence, once they come to know about it. In this case, the information regarding the ‘Bois Locker Room’ group had become public knowledge, and so the cyber cell decided to investigate.
What Potential Offences Have Been Committed by Such Groups?
SECTION 66E, IT ACT – VIOLATION OF PRIVACY
This covers the sharing of images of “a private area of any person without his or her consent”. The term private area means naked or undergarment-clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks or female breast.
The sharing of private images of any girls on the group (even those who are 18 or above) would be an offence under this section.
PUNISHMENT UPON CONVICTION: Imprisonment of up to 3 years, and/or a fine of up to Rs 2 lakhs.
SECTION 67A, IT ACT – TRANSMITTING SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL
This covers the sharing of any images that show a person engaged in a sexual act or conduct.
The sharing of real or morphed image purporting to show the girls (underage or otherwise) engaged in a sexual act would be an offence under this section.
PUNISHMENT UPON CONVICTION: Imprisonment of up to 5 years, and/or a fine of up to Rs 10 lakhs.
SECTION 67B, IT ACT – TRANSMITTING SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL DEPICTING A CHILD
This covers not just the depiction of children in sexual acts or conduct, but the creation or distribution of any digital text or images that depicts children “in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner”.
The sharing of any real or morphed images of underage girls on the group would be considered an offence under this section – and perhaps even some of the comments and discussions on the group could fall within its ambit as well.
PUNISHMENT UPON CONVICTION: Imprisonment of up to 5 years, and/or a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs.
SECTION 354C, IPC – VOYEURISM
This covers the taking or sharing of a picture of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would have an expectation of privacy.
This would cover similar conduct as Section 66E of the IT Act, but with the additional benefit of being a cognizable offence, a minimum conviction period, and an enhanced sentence for subsequent convictions. It also covers the sharing of images which may not fully depict a private area of a person, say if it were cropped to try and avoid the consequences of the IT Act offences described above.
PUNISHMENT UPON CONVICTION: Imprisonment of 1-3 years, and a fine. For subsequent convictions, imprisonment of 3-7 years.
SECTION 354D, IPC – STALKING
The offence of stalking includes “monitoring the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of communication”.
Thus, hacking into the girls’ social media profiles and chats, or even collecting their photos from social media, would be an offence under this section.
PUNISHMENT UPON CONVICTION: Imprisonment of up to 3 years and a fine.
SECTIONS 14 & 15, POCSO ACT – CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
The use of a child for pornographic purposes – which covers photos of their sexual organs or their indecent/obscene representation – is an offence under Section 14 of the POCSO Act. Even the storage of any pornographic material involving a child with the intention of sharing it, is an offence under Section 15.
The sharing of morphed and real images of underage girls on the ‘Bois Locker Room’ group, would be a violation of these provisions.
PUNISHMENT UPON CONVICTION: Imprisonment of 5 years or more and a fine (Section 14), and imprisonment of up to 3 years and a fine (Section 15).
Will Juvenility of Offenders Make a Difference?
As should be clear by now, the actions of the boys on the group are serious, and punishable under the law. Misguided tropes like ‘boys will be boys’ cannot justify what is clearly criminal behavior (particularly the sharing of private images of girls).
One of the complications in this case is of course that many of the boys on this group are under the age of 18 themselves. As this makes them juveniles, the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 would apply to them.
Before we even get to the stage of punishment, one of the key effects of this is that revealing the identities of any boys on this group who are under the age of 18 is also forbidden under the law. Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 prohibits the identification of even children who have committed an offence, so media houses or private persons who are discussing this issue online need to be careful that they don’t inadvertently put out names or photos of any of the boys unless they are over 18.
As for whether being juvenile will affect the punishment possible for commission of these offences, yes, any of the boys who are under 18 whom the police decide to book, will not be tried before the criminal courts, but will instead be taken before the Juvenile Justice Boards.
The maximum punishment by a JJB for a juvenile is 3 years imprisonment. However, apart from the POCSO Act offences, the maximum punishment prescribed under the law for most of the potential offences here is the same, so the punishment is unlikely to be particularly less severe.
As many of these boys will be between the ages of 16 to 18, some might ask if they could be tried as adults – this was the headline change brought about by the JJ Act of 2015, of course.
However, this would not be possible for the offences listed above, as these don’t qualify as ‘heinous offences’ (with imprisonment of 7 years or more), and so they cannot be tried as adults.
If the police do decide to add some more severe charges to the case for instance conspiracy to commit rape or gang rape then this might become a possibility. In the meanwhile, when it comes to those on the group who are over 18, there are no restrictions on revealing their identities and they can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
By BARANIKA. R. R