It was the worst joke one could have played on her. A 23-year-old airhostess with a private airline was shocked to see her profile posted on Orkut, describing her as a “sex-struck woman”.
The person who got her on Orkut, popularly known as an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends, also posted her neighbour’s phone number along with her profile. A photograph of the airhostess in her uniform was uploaded with her profile, and she was made a member of online communities soliciting sex. To make sure her friends and colleagues notice her, the person also connected her to communities of airhostesses, both national and international airlines, and multi-national companies.
Within no time, she was flooded with scraps (messages) “very obscene in nature”. Her neighbour, an official at Lok Sabha Secretariat, also started receiving “vulgar” calls. “For three weeks, men have been calling up these numbers asking to get in touch with my client. They have posted more than 250 messages in the scrapbook (on Orkut). The accused has also made her a member of several communities that involved prostitutes and sex workers,” the woman’s lawyer complained in a city court on Monday.
Taking cognizance of the complaint, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kamini Lau directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) to immediately ask the specialised cyber cell to trace the accused and file a report by February 9. The court has specifically asked the cyber cell not to disclose the victim’s name and identity.
A senior EOW officer said investigations in such a case would depend on the information that Google is ready to share. “ In such cases, everything depends on the information the network service provider is willing to share. We will have to find out the details of the persons who have logged into Gmail or Orkut during that period and have created a profile. This is possible only if Google agrees to share the information”, the officer said. Despite repeated attempts, Google spokesperson in Hyderabad could not be contacted.
Before moving the court, the victim had also approached the National Commission for Women, but did not get any response.
As per the complaint, on December 26 last year, the airhostess got to know about her profile on Orkut through a friend, who accidentally found it while surfing the net. The victim’s neighbour also informed her family about the “obscene calls” they had received. The woman’s brother immediately reported the misuse to Orkut, which closed down the account. But two days later, the profile was reopened.
Legal experts say the accused can be sentenced to a rigorous imprisonment of up to five years with a fine of Rs 2 lakh if tried under various sections of IT Act and IPC.
“One can only impose sections after some preliminary investigations. Prima facie a person can, however, be booked under sections 66 and 67 of the IT Act, sections 507(criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) , 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 292 (printing, etc., of grossly indecent or scurrilous matter or matter intended for blackmail) and 120 (b) (conspiracy) of the IPC,” said Tarun Goomber, a criminal lawyer.