By Anuradha Gandhi & Isha Sharma
The safety of women in India has long been a pressing issue that extends beyond just the streets. In our rapidly evolving society, women often find themselves vulnerable not only on the roads but also within the supposed safety of their homes, schools, colleges, and universities. Despite India’s remarkable progress symbolized by its space exploration achievements such as reaching the moon, the enduring challenge of preserving the dignity and respect of women remains a disheartening and unaltered reality.
Recording Inappropriate Videos
In today’s digital age, where technology is an integral part of our lives, concerns surrounding privacy and personal security have reached an unprecedented level of importance. One such distressing issue that has come to the forefront is the inappropriate recording of videos invading privacy.
Recent news has brought to light a disconcerting incident in which a 20-year-old man stands accused of a deeply invasive act1 . This individual was apprehended for allegedly recording videos of students while they were changing in the women’s washroom during the “Rendezvous” fest organised at IIT Delhi. The alleged act of secret filming occurred on October 06, 2023.The person in question has been identified as a resident of Manglapuri in Palam, Delhi.
The arrest came into effect following a complaint received through a social media platform, submitted to the Kishangarh Police Station, which highlighted the disturbing act of inappropriate videos recorded within the women’s washroom at IIT Delhi. Subsequently, the case was handed over to the Delhi police to delve deeper into this unsettling case.
It has been revealed that the accused was as an employee of an agency responsible for housekeeping services outsourced to the institute, according to a statement issued by IIT Delhi.
IIT Delhi, in response to this alarming incident, has treated it with utmost seriousness and urgency it warrants. The institute is working closely with the police with full cooperation and has reiterated their commitment to a zero tolerance policy against any such transgressions.
Furthermore, IIT Delhi has taken proactive measures to reinforce existing security protocols, ensuring a safe and secure environment for all students and visitors participating in the fest. As the investigation unfolds, the institute remains dedicated to upholding the safety and dignity of its community members, emphasizing the importance of such vigilance in safeguarding its premises.
Following the emergence of a newspaper article highlighting the alleged incident, the Delhi High Court, presided over by a bench led by Hon’ble Mr. Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjeev Narula has undertaken suo moto cognizance of the concerns regarding security breaches, especially in the context of female attendees at various fests organised by colleges or universities in the Delhi-NCR region2.
During the court proceedings, the counsel representing the Delhi Police informed the bench about the registration of a case under Section 354 of the IPC and that the accused is presently in judicial custody.
In response to the matter, the court has issued a notice to the Delhi University, IIT-Delhi and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, a significant step that underscores the gravity of the issue and the university’s potential role in addressing it. Furthermore, the court has granted a two week period to the Delhi Police to furnish a comprehensive status report outlining the actions taken against the accused involved in the incident along with a report highlighting their existing policies qua security measures during college festivals held at their premises.
“The Investigating Officer (“IO”) of the case at hand shall exercise utmost discretion during investigation and ensure anonymity of the women involved. Prompt steps shall be taken to prevent dissemination of photographs clicked / videos recorded by the accused. IN the event such media is circulated on any of the social media platforms, the concerned Deputy Commissioner of Police as well as the IO are directed to undertake immediate steps for their take down, in accordance with law,” the court said.
The incident serves as a stark reminder of the continuous need for vigilance and measures to protect the well-being and privacy of individuals, especially within educational institutions.
Recording video or capturing images of someone without one’s consent is a gross invasion of privacy and may constitute offences under the Indian laws.
- Section 354C of the IPC deals with voyeurism which specifies that it is a criminal offence to capture or record images of a woman engaging in a private act without consent. It states:
“Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
- Section 509 of the IPC deals with the offense of insulting the modesty of a woman. It may apply if the recording is done with the intention to outrage the modesty of woman. It states:
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 with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and also with fine]
- Section 66-E of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 addresses the violation of privacy by capturing, publishing or disseminating private images of a person without his/her consent using electronic devices. It states:
“Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.”
The invasion of privacy is a grave violation of personal rights and dignity and the consequences of such actions are far-reaching and deeply distressing. The fear of being subjected to non-consensual recording can have a significant impact on one’s mental and emotional well-being, ultimately restricting their freedom and sense of security.
This proactive approach taken by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the referred case not only highlights its commitment to addressing security breaches and ensuring the protection of women’s rights but also emphasizes the role of the judiciary in upholding the law and safeguarding the dignity and security of individuals, particularly in the context of educational institutions and public events.