Three practicing lawyers have written a letter to the Supreme Court asking for appropriate proceedings to be initiated in regard to the recently leaked screenshots from Instagram group 'Bois Locker Room' which have now gone viral.
Addressing the Secretary-General, the 5-page letter throws light on the incident which surfaced on May 3 and urges the Apex Court to take up the matter since the incident is one that shocks the very conscience of the nation.
After giving a detailed overview of the nature of the group, the content that was leaked and activities that take place in the 'Bois Locker Room', it is informed that the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) took up the matter and issued notice to Instagram and Delhi police on May 4. Subsequently, it is further apprised, the Delhi Police Cyber Crime Cell has taken cognizance of the matter while a case has also been registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and IT Act on the basis of social media reports. "The above acts also constitute offence under Section 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Section 506, 507, 509, 465 and 471 IPC", it is stated.
However, it is the concern of these lawyers that Instagram could cite privacy concerns being involved and use the same to delay proceedings. Believing that a timely investigation is the need of the hour, the Apex Court has been urged to ensure the same by monitoring the probe.
"On basis on social media reports, a case has been registered under relevant sections of IT Act &other relevant IPC sections. However, the tech giants have the potential of citing privacy concerns and thus, lead to a delay in the entire inquiry and investigation process. While we do not discount that the social media platforms would need adequate information and formal police complaints will be required to be lodged to probe into this matter, however timely redressal will in our opinion restore the faith in the process of investigation and fair trial which has shaken to the core by the wrong-doers."
The primary concern that has been thrown open here is regarding the privacy and safety of women on video sharing platforms. The incident, write the advocates, brings to light the ease with which cyber bullying can be indulged in under the veil of anonymity, as obscene and objectionable material may be shared comfortably.
This aside, the alarming attitude of teenage boys objectifying girls, glorifying rape and threatening girls with same is an extremely serious problem, adds the letter. Since the matter involves sensitization and counselling of juveniles, the Top Court must intervene.
"It is appalling how boys as young as 15 years of age glorify rape, discuss techniques of raping and gang-raping women and objectifying them in the most horrendous manner. Above all, instead of being apologetic or fearful, they are openly threatening the girls who are calling them out in public with dire consequences. If threats such as being raped, gang-raped, tortured and being beaten are so casual and common that they do not incite fear among the wrong-doers, then these wrong-doers certainly do not dread being investigated, charged or being punished", claim the three advocates practicing in Supreme Court.
"In view of the above, we request that this horrific incident be taken up by the Hon'ble Supreme Court on the judicial side to address the multifarious issues arising therefrom. This issue raises issue of not only privacy, safety and well-being of women, but also of sensitisation and counselling of juveniles who are engaging in such conduct."
Additionally, the Court has been implored to intervene so as to ensure that jurisdictional challenges to not become an impediment in pursuing the investigation.
"We also request the intervention of the Hon'ble Supreme Court since there might be jurisdictional challenges in pursuing the inquiry and investigation into this offence due to the nature of the offence being such. A directive of the Hon'ble Supreme Court would ensure that such challenges do not become an obstacle in timely inquiry, investigation and adjudication of the allegations."
The letter has been written by Advocates Anand Varma (AOR), Kaustubh Prakash and Shubhangni Jain in their personal capacity.
LiveLaw spoke to Jain about the gravity of the incident and why they felt the need to approach the Top Court. She said-
"The 'Bois Locker Room' is a group of boys, mostly minors, glorifying rape culture. It is appalling that these 15-16 year old boys take gang-rape so lightly. The chats reveal a sense of no fear or consequences of committing a grievous crime.
While we believe that a formal police complaint is required to be lodged to probe into this matter, however, we thought of approaching the Supreme Court for a court-monitored investigation for timely and fair redressal. In addition, we want the Court to address the multifarious issues arising therefrom like privacy, safety and well-being of women, sensitisation and counselling of juveniles who are engaging in such conduct and how the anonymity of the accounts has become an easy medium to threaten whoever you want to and indulge in cyberbullying."
Click here to download the Letter