Lawyers approach Delhi HC on Instagram chat row, seek suo moto cognisance

New Delhi: Two advocates have written to the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court D.N. Patel asking him to take suo moto cognisance in connection with the incident relating to the Instagram chat group of a few south Delhi schoolboys.

“We beseech your Lordships, to take suo-moto cognizance of the aforesaid incident and direct the concerned police authorities to register FIR against the perpetrators and initiate investigation in the matter,” the letter said.

Leaked screenshots of the private Instagram chat group stirred up a storm over rape culture in India after numerous schoolboys were allegedly seen sharing photos of underage girls, objectifying them, and planning ‘gang rapes’.

“We have taken the liberty to write the present letter to you sir, seeking suo moto cognizance, since as members of the society and especially as members of the legal fraternity, we are under an obligation not to remain silent spectators in matters of violent crime against women and leave it to the victims alone to fight a lonely battle,” the letter said.

Narrating the incident in their letter, the two advocates – Neela Gokhale and Ilam Paridi wrote “It has been reliably learnt that a group of boys, allegedly from south Delhi, aged about 16-18 years of age, have created a group chat on Instagram, a social media platform, under the name and style of ‘Bois Locker Room’. The contents of the conversation and chats on the group, which have now emerged in public domain, are extremely shocking. The content is related to obscene and lewd comments on the private body parts of the women, with further threats and offers to leak morphed nude pictures and circulate them.”

“Private photographs of women and girls were shared accompanied by foul and degrading comments in respect of the girls in the photos. Furthermore, the conversation between the members went to the extent of making plans to ‘gang rape’ the said minors. A sample screenshot reveals that the boys have made statements, such as – ‘We can rape her easily’ and ‘I will come whenever you say. We will gang rape her’, ‘I will get more boys’ etc,” the letter said.

It also said that the photographs have been taken without the consent of the depicted women or girls, and shared amongst the groups. “The comments which follow the photographs are extremely objectionable and of highly pornographic nature. It shocks the conscience of any right-thinking member of society to see that school going boys are indulging in border line pedophilia and misogynistic behaviour and are using social media platforms to perpetrate crimes against women and propagate rape culture,” the letter states.

The two advocates also wrote that while virtual platforms and technology have been a boon for enabling people to learn, share, and grow, a handful of rogues cannot be permitted to dilute the credibility and utility of the social media platforms, to perpetuate and propagate their vile and abusive behaviour. The mediums which were meant to lend voices even to the voiceless, cannot be permitted to offer its platform as a breeding ground for misogyny and extend all the offline sexism and objectification that prevails online.

The incident came to light after a girl from south Delhi shared the screenshot over social media exposing the said groups and scores of similar groups.

Meanwhile, another alleged version of a “Girls’ Locker Room” has started trending on the micro blogging site. Many screenshots shared on Twitter have alleged that just like the boys’ version, there is a similar chat group that sexualises and objectifies boys and talks trash about their bodies.

After the leaked screenshots went viral, many also started bashing ‘feminists’ for criticising only men, while others found both instances objectionable and called for gender sensitisation for both sexes.

A man has allegedly posted some screenshots of the chat groups on social media where girls were allegedly objectifying boys. The group chat screenshots allegedly have objectionable images of men in the so-called women-only group.

Another social media user who discussed about the girls’ group on Instagram said, “I am not here to expose anyone. I am just here to educate the people that it happened both way.”

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