Last week, a sensation was created in Delhi when some alleged conversations in Instagram chat group consisting of boys of a school. It was alleged that the group had discussed a possible gang raping of one of their classmates. The matter came to light when the victim girl appeared to disclose the conversation through Twitter.
Though the girl herself was a member of a similar chat group “Girls Locker Room”, she was hailed as a bold whistle blower and people naturally were disgusted with the behavior of young students in the capital and the moral degradation of our schools.
Delhi police booked a case and arrested the Admin of the “Bois Locker Room” group. It also identified about 20 other accused and started investigations. Cyber law experts started discussing under what sections of ITA 2000 the erring boys should be punished. There were also TV debates on the issue.
Two days later, vulgar conversations in another group called the Girls locker room were released in the public. This indicated that there was something shady in the way both boys and girls behaved and showed the “Delhi Culture” in its poorest light. Parents of these boys and girls should have felt like committing suicide for the shameless behaviour of their wards.
While experts were still discussing whether the offence comes under Section 67 or 67A or 67B of ITA 2000/8 or under any sections of IPC etc., a shocking news came today that the case was built on a fake message created by the victim girl herself. She had created a fake chat account in the name of a boy called “Siddarth”, and created a fake chat between “Siddarth” and the “Girl” and posted the screen shots in the Boys Locker room group as if Siddarth was suggesting gang raping of the girl. Perhaps the girl wanted to know if others would react in favour of the suggestion. Perhaps she would have felt a psychological satisfaction if many boys in the group had agreed. It is un-imaginable to understand the level of perversion exhibited by this girl. It is perhaps a sin to give her protection of identity under Privacy.
Any sensible person will fail to accept the sort of mental state these girls and boys have displayed and will feel depressed on seeing the state of our society.
Now, leaving aside the discussions on morality, we can focus on understanding what kind of crime that the girl has committed and how ITA 2000 will deal with it.
Firstly, the girl impersonated herself as “Siddartha” with the purpose of cheating many other boys and bringing bad reputation to the group Bois Locker room (Over and above whatever dirty reputation it might have had) and consequently got the admin of that group arrested and defamed. She was actually luring them into an offence that would have destroyed them even if they had shown any inclination to carry out the attack.
She has also created a false screen shot which amounts to creating a false electronic document for the purpose of cheating. There is conspiracy and unauthorized activities akin to hacking.
In the background are the indecent and obscene language used in the chats which fall under Section 67 of ITA 2000. It will fall under Section 67A if there are pictures of any sexual acts, and under Section 67B if pictures involve minors. Correspondingly the imprisonment term under ITA 2000/8 itself would be 3 or 5 or 7 years. If they had carried out the assault, they could have faced death penalty if they were not considered for juvenile amnesty.
Now the Police have to decide whether they should file a fresh FIR on the girl and charge her with all the above charges under ITA 2000/8 and for creating a false evidence to implicate another in a serious crime, under IPC. Though a conspiracy to self inflict a rape may not be a valid offence, the conspiracy to trap the boys into an attempt of committing a heinous crime would be recognized. The conspiracy would therefore have led to a serious charge on the girl equivalent to a conspiracy to commit a gang rape on some body else.
Assuming that all the students would be from influential families there would be pressure on the Police to drop all the cases and forget the incident. If it is done, it would be a tragedy.
While reading about this crime, I am reminded of the murder committed in Bengaluru several years back by a girl who conspired to get the boy to whom she was engaged murdered by using her boy friends. That case was solved by an analysis of the SMS messages that the girl continued to send while she took the victim on a friendly stroll on a lonely road a few days before the marriage. Her friend attacked the boy with rods and murdered him while the girl stood around and supervised the murder. Perhaps the Delhi Girl would in her future years could challenge this Bengaluru girl for gaining notoriety which led to even a movie to be made on her.
Press has obviously not revealed the identity of the erring boys and the girls under the guise of “Privacy” of “Juveniles”. But one wonders if it is not a case where these juveniles are a danger to the society and should be rusticated from the schools. Perhaps their identity also should be made public so that others will take care not to befriend them by mistake.
It is a matter which will be discussed for a long time as an instructive case.
Before we end, I would also like to highlight that here is a lesson for the bench of the Supreme Court which gave its verdict on the Shafi Mohammed case which we have been criticizing in strong terms. As per the principle established in the judgement, the view of the Supreme Court was that if the screen shots of the Snapchat or Instagram is produced as evidence, it may not require a Section 65B certificate.
Because of this interpretation of the Court, any false evidence filed by the girl would have been admitted without a Section 65B certificate and the trial would have commenced on the boys, if the Police had not unearthed the conspiracy for which we should appreciate them.
In such cases, if a Section 65B certificate is submitted, at least some body would take the responsibility for the electronic document produced for evidence and probably he would have captured the inconsistencies that were later found by the Police. Fortunately, this judgement in the Shafi Mohammed case has now gone for a review to a larger bench and hopefully would be shelved, restoring the principles of the P V Anvar Vs P K Basheer case.
But the fact that evidences can be faked and false cases lodged is a matter to be noted and the Police and lower judiciary has to be very careful in coming to premature decisions where the evidence is not properly produced.