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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The nonsensical comments made under Khali’s posts have triggered him into disabling the comment section.
  • The question arises as to what other sources of redressal are available in such a case.
  • Public Nuisance is defined as an act which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the people in general who dwell or occupy the property, in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to the people who may have occasion to use any public right.
  • On the other hand, online harassment refers to repeated and unsolicited abusive contact, with the goal of intimidating, or frightening the target.
  • A more relevant phenomenon applicable to this case is that of trolling which is defined as the act of leaving an insulting message on the internet in order to annoy someone.

INTRODUCTION

The world famous WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) wrestler, The Great Khali, regularly keeps his fans posted about his daily life on social media. Quite recently, Dilip Pratap Rana, also known as The Great Khali, has been a victim of excessive trolling on social media. Such incidents have often happened in the past, where celebrities like Neha Dhupia, M S Dhoni and others have had to disable the comments section to prevent the posting of unwanted and rude comments by the general public. In the given incident, netizens have targeted his posts by commenting and making bizarre requests. This move was followed by making and sharing of memes which went viral on Twitter.

NUISANCE

Section 268 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states that a person guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission, which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance, to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right. Public nuisance is based on the principle embodied in the maxim of civil law “sic utere tuo ut rem publicum non laedas”, which means ‘enjoy your property in such a way as not to injure the right of the public’. Now, a simple analysis of this would show that while posting of comments which cause annoyance to a person does technically fall under the category of nuisance, its application is limited because there is no correlation between Nuisance as defined in the Indian Penal Code and the case of posting nonsensical comments which cause frustration and annoyance.

CYBERBULLYING

There is no official definition of Cyberbullying but it refers to an act which is aggressive in nature and is committed repeatedly by an individual or a group, using electronic mediums of contact, against a defenseless individual. Cyberbullying includes spreading negative content through text, causing humiliation through malicious and hateful comments across online platforms, sharing nasty or false information about a certain individual or organization and more. There are no distinct laws based on Cyberbullying however there are provisions in the Information Technology Act, 2000 that tackle this issue. Section 66 A deals with sending of offensive messages through a communication service. It provides relief against people who have been at the receiving end of insulting and injurious messages online. Under the Indian Penal Code, Section 507 deals with criminal intimidation made by anonymous communication. Section 503 deals with sending threatening messages through email. Section 500 talks about abuse via emails. As we can see, these measures seem to be too drastic for tackling comments which are aimed at poking fun. These comments posted were not intended to bully but only to have some fun. However, if the intensity and frequency of such comments increase, it can take the form of cyberbullying which will be punishable. To get redressal against this, one has to lodge a complaint with the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell at the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. This can be done through the online portal of the Cell.

ONLINE HARASSMENT

Online harassment involves threatening or harassing emails, instant messages, or posting information online. However, spams and forwards sent to a person, even if annoying, is not harassment. If there is an element of threat, abuse and bullying present in the communication sent or received, it takes the form of online harassment. Online harassment includes elements of public action and threat, false accusations, defamation, sexual remarks, pornographic content, morphing of pictures and videos, and ridicule and humiliation of a person by a group or individual. It is quite clear that the situation that Khali is facing is nowhere similar to the concept of online harassment because intention to cause harm or threaten via comments is missing. Hence, it is unlikely that a strong case can be formed against the people engaging in acts of posting silly comments.

ALTERNATIVE REDRESSALS

  • REPORTS TO WEBSITE: An online report can be filed and sent to the concerned social media sites. This can either be done through the feedback and suggestions portal or one can even report a particular comment or the account through which it was made. All websites are bound by the IT Rules, 2011, to disable the offending content within 36 hours.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN: A person can also take to social media to express his or her views and emotions after receiving comments that were objectionable in nature. The use of hashtags and appeal to the general public often brings attention to effects such comments can have on a person’s reputation and mental health and can be resorted to, if the incident is a minor one.

CONCLUSION

The internet, ever since it came into existence has served as a medium for bringing people together. New websites and pages are created everyday and social networking has emerged as a new form of communication. This global interconnectedness allows for easy sharing and transmission of information worldwide within a few seconds. However, the number of Cyber Offences and Misdemeanours has steadily increased over the years. A new phenomenon called ‘Trolling’ has come into existence, which is basically the excessive teasing, bullying and causing harm to a person online for no apparent reason, other than hate or humor. To make the internet a better place and to protect individuals from the harms of such Cyber Crimes and Cyber Bullying, many countries have developed laws to tackle the perpetrators and punish them. These laws are increasingly coming into use today as crimes and unlawful behaviour on social media has risen manifold. It is expected that these laws will be continuously improved to provide satisfactory redressal to the victims.


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