Current AffairsIndia

Duty of State to act against misuse of social media, police must investigate complaints without delay: Orissa High Court

Within a month of its call for legislation to erase offensive videos and revenge material off the internet, the Orissa High Court has once again taken cognizance of the rise of objectionable content on social media, particularly objectionable videos young girls.

A Bench of Justices SK Mishra and Savitri Ratho noted an increase in the number of offensive videos circulating on social media, targeting young women.

“The menace of circulating objectionable videos in the social media has become a problem for the young people, especially young girls,” the High Court said.

Enjoining the State to ensure such content was not permitted, the Court also called for an expedited investigation of such cases when such complaints reached police stations.

The Bench made these remarks when hearing a Habeas Corpus petition filed in the Court by a girl’s father. While the girl was eventually rescued, the Court took note of the allegation that the girl was being harassed by one of the respondents, who circulated “objectionable videos” on the social media.

The girl averred that despite filing an FIR before the Inspector (IIC) at the Jagatpur Police Station in Cuttack, the FIR was not registered at the police station.

Against this backdrop, the Court directed the police to register FIRs in such cases as early as possible and institute an investigation into such allegations without any delay.

Dealing with the case on hand, the Court instructed the police to examine the FIR without further delay and register the same if a cognizable offense was demonstrated.

If necessary, the police could raid the homes of the persons named as accused, the Court added.

Directing its orders’ compliance, the Court proceeded to list the matter for hearing on December 15, 2020. Advocate DDU Mishra argued the petitioner’s case, and Additional Government Advocate AK Nanda appeared for the Odisha Government.

On November 25, a Single Bench of Justice SK Panigrahi had lamented the lack of an effective right to be forgotten legislation to protect the privacy of the persons who were made the subject of offensive content online. The Court was hearing a bail application moved by a man who recorded a sexual assault upon a woman and created a Facebook profile in her name to circulate the footage online.

Finding that the woman had been at the receiving end of unabated mental torture, the bail application was rejected.

As in the case at hand, the Court noted that woman seemed to be at the receiving end of harmful content online. Any accused will surreptitiously outrage the woman’s modesty and misuse the same in the cyberspace unhindered if the right to be forgotten was not recognized.

A petition seeking the recognition of the right to be forgotten presently pending in the Kerala High Court.

Via Bar & Bench
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