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Case analysis : the State Cyber Cell v Yogesh Pandurang Prabhu

October 30, 2021
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This article is written by Poornima Animi, pursuing a Certificate Course in Advanced Criminal Litigation & Trial Advocacy from Lawsikho. The article has been edited by Ruchika Mohapatra (Associate, LawSikho).

Introduction   

Cybercrime is defined as a crime committed by using a computer, phone, or any other electronic device as a tool. Cyberstalking is one such major crime. The word “Stalking” means “to pursue or approach stealthily.”  Cyberstalking refers to harassing or threatening someone by using electronic communication like emails, social media, messaging apps, etc. It can target individuals, groups, or an organisation. 

In this article, we will read about cyberstalking in light of the following case State (cyber cell) v Yogesh Pandurang Prabhu (2009) which was presided over by Justice Shri M.R. Natu, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Court of Mumbai. This case deals with the offence punishable under Section 509 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 r/w Sections 67 and 67A of Information Technology Act,2000. The present case discusses sending obscene materials by email. Yogesh was accused of cyberstalking by sending obscene emails to a reporter. He was punished under Section 509 of the IPC and Section 66E of IT Act, 2000 but not under Sections 67 and 67A of IT Act, 2000.  Let us further study the facts of the case and the judgment given by the court.

Facts of the case

In the  case Jawaharlal Das vs State of Orissa, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had decided  that; when we take circumstantial evidence as the evidence of an offence, it must satisfy three conditions:

1. While proving the guilt of an accused, the circumstances that led towards his guilt need to be established beyond reasonable doubt.

2.  The circumstances should have a definite tendency to prove the guilt of an accused.

3. Take all the circumstances cumulatively and they should form a chain of that offence and there should be no chance to escape from the conclusion. 

Similarly, in the case of  Hanumant vs State of Madhya Pradesh, and State of  Uttar Pradesh vs Ashok Kumar Srivastava, the court said that the chain of circumstances fully established and all the facts should be constituted only with the hypothesis of the guilt of an accused.

Detailed analysis of the case

The decision of the court

After hearing  the arguments of both the parties, the court gave an order that the accused be punished under Section 509 of  IPC,1860 and also Section 66E of IT Act, 2000 vide Section 248(2) of Criminal Procedure Code as follows:

  1. Under Section 509 of IPC,1860 that the accused was punished with simple imprisonment for 1 month and a fine of Rs.5,000/
  2. Under Section 66E of IT Act, 2000, the  accused was punished with simple imprisonment for 3 months and a fine of Rs.10,000/- in default to suffer simple imprisonment for 2 months.
  3. Both the sentences should run concurrently.
  4. The hard disk shall be returned to the managing director of WamBombay Company 

Conclusion

In this case, the accused was rightly convicted under Section 509 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 66E of Information Technology Act, 2000. The right to privacy comes under Article 21. The present act is not strong enough to deal with cases of cybercrime where one’s dignity and privacy are put into question. The acts must be amended, keeping the gravity of the crime in mind. Along with this, it is crucial to pay attention to awareness generation in the field of cybercrime to ensure that people, as done in this case, take action against harassment.

References


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