Cyber bullying is a practice that is causing hue and cry in the whole legal system but till date there are no special legislation to deal with cyberbullying in India. It is a new phenomenon which has arisen in this internet age. Cyberbullying can be defined as “The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.”. In India, there is no specific legislation which deals with cyber bullying but there are provisions like article 67 of IT Act which partially deal with such matters. Though, it was made to deal with matters related to e-commerce.
CYBER BULLYING CAN BE IN DIFFERENT FORMS, FOR EXAMPLE:
- Posting any kind of humiliating content of the victim.
- Hacking the victim’s account.
- Sending or posting vulgar messages online.
- Threatening to commit acts of violence.
- Stalking by means of calls, messages, etc..
- Threats of child pornography.
The Ryan Halligan Case of Vermont (2003) was the first case that dealt with the issue of cyberbullying in which the defendant was not held liable for cyberbullying the girl because of criminal law could not be applied in that matter. Recently, there have been several instances of cyber bullying of persons from LGBT group on facebook and other social media apps. Such acts make the victims depressed, isolated and sometimes even lead to suicidal tendencies.
According to a survey conducted by Microsoft about the global Youth found that surprisingly 53% of children have been bullied in India through different ways. This scenario is not just in India but in China, Australia, Europe and other countries. It is not just youths but people of all age groups face this problem and the biggest challenge is recognizing the bully on internet or cyberspace. The technological barriers act as a hindrance in dealing with such issues. Institutional infrastructure needs to be developed to deal with this set of bullying. In the present era of rampant growth of cyber bullying it is the biggest challenge for the legislators to deal with.
Anti-bullying laws in India for schools and colleges
In India there is no separate legislation to deal with bullying at school level. Bullying is prevalent at school level in India, especially in boarding schools. However in 2015 HRD ministry directed CBSE schools to form anti-ragging committees at school level also putting severe punishments to students indulging in bullying and the punishment may vary to rustication in rarest of rare cases. There should be notice boards warning students from involving in ragging or bullying.
The Raghavan committee report recommended that teachers and the principal shall be held liable if any act of bullying takes place in the school premises. In the case of University of Kerala v. Council, Principal’s colleges, Kerala & others
“Now the Question arises, why should the Indian penal laws not apply to a school? You may say that the school boys are only in late teens but do not forget that there are several crimes in various cities including murders which are committed by teenagers today”
These words raise a serious question on the safety of the youths of the country.
Similarly, UGC has laid guidelines to all the colleges across the country to follow anti-ragging rules in their respective universities and the universities which do not abide by such rules would be bring to task and even UGC could forfeit their recognition. The government of India enacted special regulation to curb bullying at higher education institutions – “UGC Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Education Institutions, 2009”. A student may also have criminal liability under different sections of the criminal procedure code of India.