Reporting Abuse to the Police

Illustration Reporting abuse to the police Pranisha03 v05

In case of harassment/threats/abuse:

Where to go:

Nearest Police Station [all stations are instructed to file complaints, but one may approach main crime branch also if one wishes to]

Is there a way to file complaints online? No.

What to take:

Anything that can count as evidence- screenshots are important to save, because even if the abusive content is deleted, the proof remains with you. URL of abusive account, the name they use, the video that you want to report are all evidence that can come of use.

What if the abuser has deleted the content of his messages and there is no evidence?: Evidence is very important, so immediately document it!

Your rights:

  • Someone at the level of Inspector or above is obliged to talk to you
  • The police HAVE to file an FIR if it is a cognisable offence

If one is unsure about the nature of the offence, the police are allowed to investigate for 10-15 days and then come to a conclusion. If one does not know which section to file it under, are the police obliged
to help? YES.

Laws that might come in handy:

  • IT Act

s. 22: Compensation for failure to protect data

s. 66D: Punishment for cheating or impersonation

s. 66E: Punishment for violation of privacy

  • Indian Penal Code

s. 228(a): Disclosure of identity of victim of certain offences

s. 354: Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty

s. 499: Defamation

s. 503: Criminal intimidation

s. 505: Statements conducing public mischief

s. 507 Criminal intimidation by anonymous communication

s. 509 Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman along with CrPC.

If one does not know which section to file it under, are the police obliged to help?: Yes.

What to expect after complaining:

Ideally, you should receive updates about the status of your complaint, but no formal mechanism exists yet!

Roadblocks that the police might face:

When the person abusing or harassing is based in a different country, or when the content is hosted on servers in a different country, there are delays. Mutual Legal Assistance treaties have been signed with 38 countries, but this has been a failed mechanism to nab culprits or take down non-consensually uploaded material.