The Bois Locker Room Issue: Legal Side

The Bois Locker Room Issue

Bois Locker Room was an Instagram scandal, allegedly involving a chat room of teenage boys from Delhi. It was started on 3 May 2020, when a member leaked chats from the group, including obscene images of around 15 girls. The controversy flared after several social media users led by Instagram user Niska Nagpal posted screenshots of the leaked chats and morphed photos of young girls on Instagram and Twitter.

On Sunday, 6 May 2020 the hashtag #boyslockerroom was retweeted over 30,000 times. The Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights took notice of the issue and issued various notices to Instagram as well as Delhi Police for further information on the scandal. To read more about this topic, check Bois Locker Room. 

Investigation and Arrest

Despite the ongoing lockdown in place for COVID-19, the investigation was reportedly expedited with help from Swati Maliwal. As of 6th May 2020, one student responsible starting Bois Locker Room was arrested and 15 other students from prominent Delhi schools were questioned.

The police also identified 27, mostly underage, members of the group. As of 11th May 2020, the police had arrested the group administrator of the #BoisLockerRoom from Noida and apprehended a juvenile who was in the group and they had confiscated the mobile phones of all the suspects. Of the 27 boys, 24 had been examined, two were out of reach and the details of one more are was awaited.

The Legal Angle

Bois Locker Room is historic in that it is the first legal case to come out of an Instagram chat room. There are many legal provisions which can be applied in the case of Bois Locker Room:

  1. Information Technology Act, 2000- Section 66 of the IT Act, 2000 awards punishment for communicating grossly offensive content. The punishment ranges from imprisonment for a period of 3 years or fine or both. Section 67 of The Information Technology Act, 2000 penalizes any person for transmitting obscene material that is lascivious in nature. The punishment can be up to 7 years along with a fine that can be up to 10 lakh.

  2. Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (The Law of Obscenity)- deals with obscene content. The elements of this Section is that the accused should have sold or distributed or published or imported or printed material which is obscene in nature. The punishment can be up to 2 or 3 years in prison.

  3.  Section 463(offense of forgery)- It defines forgery as- ‘Any instrument which fraudulently purports to be what it is not’. With current technology morphing or forging pictures, text and videos can be done instantly.

  4. The POCSO Act- The preamble of the Indian Constitution categorical provides for the protection of children from sexual assault, pornography, and also from sexual harassment.

  5. Outraging the modesty of a woman- Section 509 of IPC speaks about the modesty of women. It states- If any word, gesture, or action made by the offender seems to be intentionally intruding the privacy of a woman, then such an offense will fall under the category of outraging the modesty of a woman.

Since most of the participants were juveniles at the time of the incident, the intensity of the conviction and punishment is going to be less. 

There is also the discussion that the chats were mostly done privately and people have spoken both defended and spoken against. And some people believe that since it happened in a chatroom it is different from private conversations. 

The Way Forward

Many experts specializing in adolescent counseling, have narrowed down the reasons for the lack of proper sexual education and gender sensitivity among teenagers. According to Dr. Rajagopal, for boys sex is often a “forbidden topic”. “The reason you have a boys room locker, where all these discussions are taking place, is because at that age they are curious and they haven’t been given healthy sensitization about sex, women and things related to sexual health.

Nothing has been provided,” she said. Another counselor said that misogyny is rampant in society, illustrated by “how people like to sexually objectify women and laugh on sexist jokes”. She said boys should be educated about the thin lines that separate banter and abuse. The first step to prevent incidents like this is to normalize sex education and to teach boys not to objectify women or laugh at sexist jokes.

Written By - Joshua

Edited By - Vaibhav Sharma

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