Abuse of Technology in Cyberspace, written by Surya Sunilkumar, a student at the Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies
Afroz Khan v State of UP & Anr.
Mankind has made great technological advances. The internet has been an important communication medium through which anyone can share something online. The aftermath of such advances is cyberbullying and harassment, which many children and adults are exposed to in one way or another. On October 15, 2020, the Allahabad Supreme Court in the state of Afroz Khan against UP found that the technology was being used to commit the crime, especially against women.
Facts of the case
The defendant had received the victim’s number. He started sending dirty and obscene messages to the victim. He hacked their social media accounts like Instagram Snapchat etc. He had sent obscene and offensive messages from the victim’s Instagram and Snapchat to the other students / boys. He pressured them to bring proceedings against the family members by dialing 1090. When the victim refused, he threatened to kill her younger brother in an accident if she did not give him 2 lakh rupees. He also threatened her to go viral with the victim’s footage, audio and video, and also said the entire family would be killed if the information were given to police.
Laws against the accused
Section 386 of the Indian Criminal Code 1860 (IPC): Extortion by putting a person in fear of death or serious injury. – Anyone who commits blackmail by putting a person in agony or serious injury must do so with imprisonment for a period of up to ten years and also be fined.
Section 354A IPC: Sexual Harassment and Punishment for Sexual Harassment.
Section 66C Information Technology Act: Punishment for identity theft. – Anyone who fraudulently or dishonestly uses the electronic signature, password or other unique identification feature of another person will be punished with a prison sentence for any duration extended to three years and a fine of 1 lakh rupees can.
The Hon’ble Allahabad High Court found that:
• The statements of the public prosecutor’s office confirmed the case and repeated the allegation made in the FIR.
• The court found that the technology was being misused to commit crimes, particularly against women in society. The defendant blackmailed and threatened the victim, which destroyed and disturbed her life.
• It has been found that this type of crime is increasing day by day.
After examining these observations, the Hon’ble Court denied the defendant’s request for bail, establishing the heinousness of the crime committed.
• In this day and age, technology abuse laws should be strict. Cyber crime has increased significantly in recent years. Everyone is technologically dependent.
• The court’s decision not to give bail to the accused applicant empowered the case as the court recognized the abomination of the case. Private sexual imagery is used to coerce and blackmail women into sexually abusive situations that affect them mentally and emotionally.
• Recent studies have shown that women are harassed with mobile text message (SMS) surveillance, extortion of intimate photos and videos, cell phone tracking, e-stalking and hacking into social media accounts, among other things. This type of crime must be recognized with maximum penalty
Technology has its advantages and disadvantages. In this case, the reasoning of the court behind the decision was clear to classify virtual bullying and harassment as a heinous crime. Information and communication technologies like the internet and cell phones are a double-edged sword – they can be used by abusers to deepen their control, by survivors of violence to connect with aid, and by women’s rights defenders to inform violence and develop strategies.