In Re, “In the matter of, the incidence of gang rape in a boarding school, situated in Bhauwala, District Dehradun v. State of Uttarakhand

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In Re, “In the matter of, the incidence of gang rape in a boarding school situated in Bhauwala, District Dehradun v. State of Uttarakhand
In the High Court of Uttarakhand
WP (PIL) 158/2018
Before Justice Rajiv Sharma, Acting Chief Justice and Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari
Decided on September 27, 2018

Relevancy of the case: Blocking unlimited access to pornographic sites

Statutes & Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2(o), 2(w), 25, 67, 67-A, 67-B, 79)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 376, 201)
  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (Section 5, 6, 19, 21)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • A minor student was raped in the school premises by four students. The Management tried to hush up the matter instead of taking prompt action against the culprits. Though, an FIR was registered against the four students and the School Management under Sections 376 and 201, Indian Penal Code, 1860 and some sections of POCSO Act, 2012.
  • Another such incident had happened in a School Van at Haldwani.
  • It was also told that the culprits had seen porn movies and, thereafter, called the minor girl to the store-room, where she was sexually assaulted.
  • The need for blocking/curbing unlimited access to the pornographic sites to avoid adverse influence on the impressionable mind of children was therefore recognized. Hence, the court has taken cognizance of the news items which appeared in different daily editions of newspapers regarding the increase in the number of sexual-assault against minors.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 has also been framed by the Central Government which also contains blocking of information in cases of emergency as per Rule 9. Rule 10 states that in case there is an order from a competent court for blocking of information, the designated officer shall immediately submit the certified copy of the court order to the Secretary and initiate action as directed.
  • The Central Government has also framed rules called ‘The Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 for Due diligence required to be observed by the Intermediaries.
  • The removal of unlimited access is encouraged under Rule 3(2)(b) which provides that due diligence should be observed by the intermediary to avoid obscene, pornographic, etc. contents. Protection has been provided to the minors from any harm caused by the Intermediary under Rule 3(2)(c).
  • The Government issued a notification which was circulated to all Internet Service Licence Holders. The Department of Electronics & Information Technology has requested the Department of Telecommunications to notify Intermediary for disablement of the URLs under the provisions of Section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 as the content therein infringed morality and decency.
  • Though the directions were issued to all the Internet Service License Holders, but till date, all the intermediaries have not followed the same in letter and spirit and the sites are still readily available to the children to view indecent acts, including pornography. It was expected from all the intermediaries to protect the children of impressionable age. The entire society, including parents, teachers, and school management is responsible to safeguard the interest of the children.

Final Decision

  • A direction was issued to all the Internet Service License Holders to punctually obey the notification to block the publication or transmission of obscene material in any electronic form, transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act or conduct and also publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in a sexually explicit act or conduct forthwith.
  • The licenses of the Internet Service License Holders under Section 25 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was directed to be suspended in case of non-compliance.
  • Respondent State was directed to ensure completion of the enquiry and investigation within a period of eight weeks from today and thereafter, to put up the Challan in accordance with the law in FIR No. 390/2018 registered at P.S. Sahaspur, Dehradun.

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