Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker has filed a complaint against a Twitter user and a YouTube influencer alleging that the duo circulated messages “intended to outrage her modesty” on social media platforms, along with hashtags related to an older movie scene of hers.
Fodder for trolls
The actress regularly faces criticism and trolling on social media platforms for her views on social and political issues. Her masturbation scene in the 2018 film Veere Di Wedding has, in particular, come under online fire. The scene had triggered controversy, with many targeting both the film and Bhasker for the portrayal of Indian women and their sexuality.
“It’s ugly and amounts to cyber sexual harassment but I feel very strongly about not succumbing to online bullying or limiting my presence online because of it. We cannot cede the virtual public space to hate, bigotry and bullying,” the actress said in an Instagram post regarding the comments she continued to receive three years after the movie’s release.
The actor filed a complaint at Delhi’s Vasant Kunj North police station. An FIR under sections 354D, 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 67 of the Information Technology (IT) Act was lodged, and an investigation is underway.
Section 354D of IPC observes that a man who “follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman” is committing the offence of stalking. The section also details that using the internet, email or other electronic means to monitor a woman is also defined as stalking. The punishment for stalking is up to three years of imprisonment along with a fine, and for repeated convictions, the imprisonment is up to five years along with a fine.
Section 509 of IPC deals with actions, words, or gestures that are made with an intention to outrage the modesty of a woman. The section defines any such action that “ 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” as an attempt to outrage the modesty of a woman. The section carries with it a punishment of up to one year with a fine if convicted.
Section 67 of the IT Act deals with the crime of publishing or transmitting obscene material through the internet. The section defines obscene material as “any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons.” The crime carries a punishment of a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST