Case Analysis : STATE OF TAMIL NADU V/S SUHAS KATTI (2004)

    INTRODUCTION

    Nowadays, we are all dependent on social media. Social media consists of various Social Networking Site (SNS) such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. We use these social networking sites to connect with a lot of people and it is now one of the fastest methods of communication between people and also an integral part of our lives. But there are a lot of downsides to social media such as harassment of others, anonymous hate messages, etc. Due to this Information Technology Act, 2000 was introduced.

    OVERVIEW

    This was the first case in India where the accused was convicted on the basis of Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000 on the charges of posting of obscene messages on the internet. This case created a great impact in India for cases against cyber bullies.

    FACTS

    The accused was the family friend of the victim. The accused wanted to marry the victim but the victim rejected his proposal and married someone else.

     The marriage however ended in a divorce. That is when the accused started to approach the victim again and then she rejected him again.

    The accused then started to harass her online by posting offensive and defamatory messages on Yahoo messenger.

    The accused also forwarded emails received in a fake account opened by him in the victim’s name. The posting of messages resulted in anonymous calls to the victim. The calls were in the belief the victim was soliciting for sex work. The victim was fed up with the harassment so she filed a report again him. The accused was arrested and he reiterated that he did not do such a thing.

    STATUTES & PROVISIONS INVOLVED

    Section 469 of Indian Penal Code

    Section 509 of Indian Penal

    Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000

    ARGUMENTS MADE BY THE DEFENCE COUNSEL

    The defence counsel argued that the offending mails and messages were either sent by her ex-husband or any other person but him.

    He also argued that the victim herself wanted to marry the accused and after being rejected, the victim tried to put false allegations on the accused.

    JUDGEMENT

    The judgement for this case was given at Metropolitan Magistrate in Egmore on 5th November, 2004. The victim provided proof in the form of the IP address belonging to the harasser was same as the accused and the cybercafé owner who was the eye-witness gave a statement against the accused. The Magistrate held the accused guilty of offences under Section 469, Section 509 IPC and Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000.

    Section 469 of Indian Penal Code states that whoever commits forgery, (intending that the document or electronic record forged) shall harm the reputation of any party, or knowing that it is likely to be used for that purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 509 of Indian Penal Code states that whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished.

    Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000 states that whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or tends to deprave and corrupt persons shall be punished.

    He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 2 years under 469 IPC and to pay a fine of Rs.500/-, one-year simple imprisonment and Rs 500 fine under 509 IPC and two years imprisonment with a fine of Rs 4,000 under section 67 of IT Act 2000.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    1. The accused was convicted successfully under 7 months of filing of the FIR.
    2. The case is also significant for having introduced electronic evidence under Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act for the first time in a Court, where a certified copy of the electronic document present on Yahoo server was produced by a private techno legal consultant, not being part of a Government forensic lab, and was accepted as the prime evidence of crime.

    By: Riddhika Vartak