Bullying, regardless of the type, is a form of humiliation. It may happen at any time and from any location, including at schools, college, workplace, and home and even the online world. There is, however a contrast between bullies that occurs in presence of you and bullying that occurs in a virtual setting, i.e. via the internet, because the latter has limited control and no place to escape, whilst the former has the option of fleeing.
Cyberbullying is one of the key concerns that have emerged in recent years in India as a result of the increased availability of digital services and social media presence. The student community is the primary victim of these bullying incidents. There is no particular provision in any legislation in India to deal with the issue of cyberbullying. However, other sections in current legislation are connected to various types of cyberbullying. Among other current legislation, the Information Technology Act plays a crucial role, although a limited one. The IT Act was established largely to address issues concerning e-commerce, as seen by its preamble. However, it has been construed by the courts to deal with internet issues such as cyberbullying, cyberstalking, etc.
Cyberbullying refers to “an aggressive, intentional act or behaviour committed by a group or an individual using electronic forms of contact against a victim who cannot easily defend himself or herself.” There have been modifications to this description describing what bullying is, but cybercrime experts have agreed on this definition. Cyberbullying is defined as any type of bullying or harassment perpetrated by digital sources or communication equipment such as computers, cell phones, or laptops, and generally includes text messages, phone calls, e-mails, messaging apps, social networking sites, or group chats. It includes anything from publishing nasty remarks, insulting comments, and false information on public forums or blogs that has led to rape and murder threats.
It is essential to understand the different forms of cyberbullying. This enables parents and young adults to report cyberbullying and take anti-cyberbullying steps. The following are some examples of typical kinds of cyberbullying:
Posting harmful, unpleasant, or humiliating rumours or remarks about a person over the internet; Publication of a humiliating or obnoxious photo or video; Making a slanderous or derogatory website about another person; Issuing internet threats that incite a person to commit suicide or harm another person; Posting hateful remarks or information online that incites religious, racial, ethnic, or political hatred; Falsifying one’s identity online to obtain or disseminate personal or false information on another person.
Since we all know, the internet is a double sword, with individuals constantly evaluating the risk and opportunity it brings. We are almost all engaged at all times, regardless of where we are in the world; we are just a tap away from our homes, colleagues, friends, teachers, companions as well as outsiders. Social media has made the world smaller, lots of potential for individuals with minimum assets, as well as raising awareness of sociopolitical groups and representing as a channel to get funding for several great causes; whereas this has confronted homeless people to the dark and deep era of the internet and harassing whilst sitting safely in the surrounding of their homes. Numerous youngsters get bullied over the internet or through mobile phones, causing the ‘target’ to be completely perplexed. Often, children are unable to recognize that what they are experiencing is a kind of bullying.
FORMS OF CYBERBULLYING
Cyberbullying may and is done in several ways, but all of them include the use of the internet and a cell phone or desktop, as well as the purpose of damaging the deceased, which is a common component in all of them. There may be various ways of doing things, some of which have yet to be found, but the most general/common ways of doing things for cyberbullying are as follows:
- Whenever the perpetrator and the victim continue to send one another angry emails, texts that might be very violent and terrifying, nasty texts, threatening messages, sending someone’s pictures, and many other factors, this is known as flaming.
- Exclusion happens when a single individual, the bully’s victim/target, is excluded from a group or chat room, and the other members of the group insult and send abusive messages to that person, as well as share sexual photos and personal texts of that person.
- When an individual’s photo or identity is intentionally broadcast to the general people or posted on a social networking site with the intent of bullying, or retaliating just for fun, this is known as an outing. The individual who has had their information or photos publicly circulated is referred to as “outed.”
- Caricaturing, impersonating, or masquerading simply entails impersonating another person or making a fictitious account on a social website or another website. This is usually accomplished to harm the bully’s impersonated person’s image or reputation.
REMEDIES PROVIDED UNDER INDIAN LAWS
Information Technology Act, 2000
The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Amended in 2008) is a piece of law issued by the Government to address internet or cyberspace crimes, as well as the penalties for these violations. This legislation defines cybercrime and the penalties for each offence. Cyberbullying is one example of an infraction that has a long-term devastating impact on a person and is hard to overcome; in severe situations, the victim may decide to take one’s own life. It’s indeed difficult to imagine that there’s no concrete rule in India dealing with cyberbullying, but it is true, so with cyberbullying on the increase in India, this is an alarming issue. The charge of cyberstalking was included as a criminal crime in the 2013 legislation revision; however, cyberbullying has yet to be added. Nonetheless, there are several clauses in Chapter XI of the legislation that may give some relief for cyberbullying actions:
Section 66(A) – This section concerns the consequences for transmitting objectionable, derogatory, abusive, or damaging remarks or content via social media platforms or group chat, or other mediums.
In Shreya Singhal and Others v. Union of India, The Supreme court overturned Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000. The decision, which has been lauded by ordinary folks and legal professionals alike, declared the Cyberlaw clause to be open-ended, vague, and unconstitutional owing to the restriction it put on Indian residents’ right to free expression.
Section 66(D) – “Penalty for using a computer resource to personate.” If someone misleads or blackmails another person over the internet, through social media platforms, that individual faces up to three years in prison and at least one lakh rupees penalty charges.
Section 66(E) – The penalties for breach of privacy are discussed in this section. When a person violates someone’s details, either by exploiting their photographs or publishing information, he is accused of cyberbullying and faces a penalty of up to 3 lakh rupees or in prison for up to three years under this clause.
Section 67 – Under this section, the retribution for posting, sending, or disseminating insulting, vulgar, or impolitic information over social media is subject to a fine of 10 lakh rupees or a sentence for up to five years.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
“The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is India’s official criminal code.” The statute imposes penalties for unlawful offences, and there are no explicit laws against cyberbullying. However, several parts may be utilized for offences that are a component of bullying but are not expressly cyberbullying.
Section 507: Someone who instils fear, threatens or coerces someone by doing something against their will secretly risks up to two years in jail. Due to the significance of the tern Anonymous, it is also classified as an anti-bullying or cyberbullying offence.
Section 354(C): Taking photos of women against their agreement, or checking up over them while they believe they are alone, or when they are engaged in their actions and do not want anybody else to view them, is punishable by a fine and imprisonment for one to three years on the first conviction. If the behaviour persists after being penalised, the sentence will be increased to 3 to 7 years in jail or more. If the cyberbully posts these photos, he may be penalized under this provision.
Section 354(D): Anyone convicted of spying, monitoring other’s activity, locations, and everyday lives on the internet against their consent with the intent to harass or injure that person, is considered as cyberbullying and faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Section 499: This section penalizes those who send derogatory communications to anybody, whether through email or another channel, as well as the internet; if performed on social media platforms, may be deemed to be cyberbullying, and will have an on victim’s mental state.
Cyberbullying is a criminal act whenever a person uses video or audio to write, speak, or make a gesture containing resentment, jealousy, abusive language, or disrespectful words or gestures, which influence the person’s reputation, causes anxiety, stress, and also affect the mental peace and prosperity of the individual directed these words or actions.
To create fright in the hearts of defaulters before they commit a crime, the punishment provision should be made non-bailable. Prior provisions had a substantial backlog that needed to be handled today. According to statistics, India has the highest number of incidents of cyberbullying, with children being the primary targets of this crime. Although there are laws in place to punish bullying, only a small number of victims and their families report cases of cyberbullying. The vast majority prefers to remain silent, hoping that problems will improve on their own.
Author’s Name: Divya Mishra (Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies, Bangalore)
 Suryansh Kumar Arora, Cyberbullying laws in India, ISSN 2020, https://www.ijlmh.com/wp-content/uploads/Cyberbullying-Laws-in-India.pdf, (last accessed June 21, 2021).
 Aparna Ramamoorthy, Cyber Bullying Laws in India, May 16, 2020, https://www.legalbites.in/cyberbullying-laws-in-india/, (last accessed June 21, 2021).
 Pooja Bhardwaj, Cyberbullying – a complete analysis, August 10,2020, https://blog.ipleaders.in/cyber-bullying-complete-analysis/, (last accessed June 21, 2021).
 Supra Note 1.
 Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, § 66(A), No. 10, Acts of Parliament, 2009.
 (2013) 12 SCC 73.
 Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, § 66(D), No. 10, Acts of Parliament, 2009.
 Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, § 66(E), No. 10, Acts of Parliament, 2009.
 Information Technology Act, 2000, § 3, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000.
 The Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 507, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860.
 The Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 354(C), No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860.
 The Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 354(D), No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860.
 The Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 499, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860.