STATE OF TAMIL NADU
Citation: C No. 4680 of 2004
Bench: D. Arulraj, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, Chennai
Complainant: State of Tamil Nadu
Respondent: Suhas Katti
Date of Judgement: 05/11/2004
Crimes through the internet has become a big problem in our developing world. With the development in the world, it is also growing in terms of technology and use of social media platforms. This has led to an increase in crimes related to internet called as cybercrimes. To deal with these types of crime many laws are issued by the government of India. This following case became the first case that created a benchmark in India regarding the cyber-harassing issue. A woman filed a case regarding the obscene messages about her. The case dealt with convicting the offenders who send offending and vulgar messages about a person which defames their reputation or annoys the person. The case dealt with the questions relating to cyberstalking and harassment of a woman online.
Background of the case
The case was filed by a woman based on being online harassed and getting vulgar messages on various social media platforms to harass and offend her those obscene messages were sent by a man who was interested in marrying her but the woman rejected him, which resulted in receiving these kinds of messages by that person.
Issue of the case
- Whether the accused is liable for punishment under sections 469 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and under section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000?
Analysis of the case
The offender was the friend of the victim and he wanted to marry the victim. Ms Roselind, but then she married some other person and hence rejected the offender. Later she got divorced after which the offender again tried to pursue her for marrying him. The victim again rejected his proposal and being insulted after this rejection, the accused started to harass the victim by sending her vulgar and obscene messages and by sharing her number online with the intention of offending and harassing her and making the society believe that she was a woman of wrongful virtue. The offender created a fake account in the name of the victim with the motive of defaming her in society. The victim then filed a complaint under section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and under sections 469 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and within the time period of 7 months from filing the FIR the Chennai Cyber Crime Cell convicted the offender.
The Hon’ble Court relied on the Kerala High Court judgement i.e., P. Sreekumar Vs. State of Kerala & Ors., where the Hon’ble Court held that;
“24. From the aforesaid decisions, it is quite luminous that the lodgment of two FIRs is not permissible in respect of the same incident. The concept of sameness has been given a restricted meaning. It does not encompass the filing of a counter-FIR relating to the same or connected cognizable offence. What is prohibited is any further complaint by the same complainant and others against the same accused after the registration of the case under the Code, for an investigation in that regard would have already commenced and allowing registration of further complaints would amount to an improvement of the facts mentioned in the original complaint. As is further made clear by the three-Judge Bench in Upkar Singh, the prohibition does not cover the allegations made by the accused in the first FIR alleging a different version of the same incident. Thus, rival versions in respect of the same incident do take different shapes and, in that event, lodgment of two FIRs is permissible.”
The petitioner filed the petition to make certain guidelines for the conviction of the offender for sending obscene messages and sending contents related to sex under section 67 of the IT Act, 2000.”
The court also referred to the case R. Arun and Ors. vs. Inspector of Police, Thiruppur North Police Station and Ors., where this particular case was highlighted as it dealt with the complaint by a woman about whom defamatory and obscene messages were posted online which gradually resulted in receiving threatening calls from the strangers. Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code was applied and the Hon’ble Court held that; “sending obscene messages and pictures over a mobile phone, threatening a woman in front of others amounts to outraging the modesty of a woman.”
Relying on the proofs which were presented before the Hon’ble Court i.e., the IP address which belonged to the harasser was the same as that of the accused and the Cyber Café owner, an eye-witness, stated the accused and other evidence produced before the Hon’ble Court, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate held the accused guilty of offences under section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which dealt with the punishment for publishing or transmitting sexual explicit act or obscene material in electronic form and section 469 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1840 which dealt with punishment for Forgery for purpose of harming reputation and punishment for insulting the modesty of women by word, act or gesture respectively.
Based on the facts and circumstances of the case the accused was convicted and was sentenced under the sections mentioned above for the said offence. He was sentenced to 1-year simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500/- under the charges of section 509 of the Indian Penal Code and 2-years of rigorous imprisonment under section 469 of the Indian Penal Code. For the offence under section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 200o he had to undergo 2-years rigorous imprisonment and also pay a fine of Rs. 4000/-.
This case has achieved an important position in the history of the Indian Legal system by convicting a person on the grounds of sending obscene messages with the intention of harassing and defaming the reputation and character of the victim and also outraging her modesty. This case also encouraged more people to come forward and lodge complaints relating to cyber-harassment and it also brought a sense of responsibility on the cyber café’s owner to maintain a visitor’s register, so that in future if any crime happens from that particular cybercafé, it can be used as evidence in the court. It can be observed that the Indian legal system sometimes lags in giving judgement and it can be supported by the famous phrase that “Justice delayed is Justice denied.” But in this particular case justice was not delayed as the accused was convicted successfully within 7 months of the filing of the FIR by the victim. Living in the 21st century where the life of every person revolves around the internet, it becomes of utmost importance to manage cybercrimes and put an end to them by making some useful alterations in the law.
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