Reality Check India

Indian mainstream media showcase – Sec 507

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on February 11, 2010

Thats it ! I am calling uncle.

Ms Sagarika Ghose has a twitter account – big deal you say.  A lot of Indian and international journos are on twitter. However, she is different. She seems to take every tweet personally, gets easily offended, and rains down abuse on those who pan her tweets. Lady, the point is you don’t have to reply to everyone and get your blood pressure up.  You do not even have to be on Twitter.

Twitter is a participative public medium. Once you tweet, its out there in the internet.  If you do not want that, you may choose to protect your tweets. If you open it up searching for upsides then you have to deal with the undesirable. You do not get to control whether your tweets are slammed or loved.  The veterans (Vir Sanghvi, Pritish Nandy, Kanchan Gupta etc) have figured it out. They have been panned – but they never lose their composure. Some even avoid twitter wisely (Arnab of Times Now).

So far so good. Abuse and return-abuse. Like a power tennis match.

But she repeatedly threatened those who slam her tweets with Sec 507 of the IPC.

hahahHA. may the best Hindu win! better get some good lawyers..):

Section 507 IPC: criminal intimidation by anonymous communication. You’re in for it, my friend..

You’ll be in the dock for criminal intimidation one day..

amazing! amazing the way you free you are to say exactly what enters your filthy mind, , hiding under your fake identity

so is it considered Hindu to be anonymously rude and abusive..? if you are a Hindu, god save Hinduism..

Her stand is very unfortunate. It betrays a “Thats it ! I am calling uncle “ mentality of those privileged enough to have connections. Remember in school cricket matches, when the rich kid got out – he would take his bat, ball, and stumps and go home.

Can someone who slams your tweets, even calls you names be jailed under Sec 506/507 ?

* I am not a lawyer, but I am passionately interested in the field of justice.

Fact is : The Gen-Y twitterati do not need a good lawyer – a garden variety will do. She needs to get a real superstar lawyer to even go beyond the first step.

Requires major co-operation from other media houses. Requires co-operation from international companies like Google Inc, Twitter to trace. They in turn require production of warrants.  Could attract negative  foreign coverage. Will outrage the internet community and cause major harm to the channel. Unless of course, there  is really a criminal intimidation.

First what is Sec 507. It is an extension of Sec 506. Lets look at both of them.

Section 506. Punishment for criminal intimidation

Whoever commits, the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both;

If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc.: -And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute, unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

Section 507. Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication

Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication, or having taken precaution to conceal the name or abode of the person form whom the threat comes, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, in addition to the punishment provided for the offence by the last preceding section.

We also need 503

Section 503. Criminal intimidation

Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal intimidation.

Explanation-A threat to inure the reputation of any deceased person in whom the person threatened is interested, is within this section.


A, for the purpose of inducing B to desist from prosecuting a civil suit, threatens to burn B’s house. A is guilty of criminal intimidation.

Both 506 and 507 – REQUIRE 503 Criminal Intimidation. 507 is just the anonymous version of 506. In the case of the twitterati – there is no evidence of criminal intimidation whatsoever. The only statement resembling a threat was made by the journo herself.

If name calling can be passed off as crime, then the culpability picture turns fuzzy. To be sure, she dishes out her share of you-suck tweets. In fact, a large majority of her tweets are name calling and return abuse. In a court, her you-suck tweets are at least as intimidating to a 20 year old aam-aadmi twitterer as the reverse.

Both 506/507 are non – cognizable and bailable by law

Non-cognizable = Police require warrant to arrest (they can neither register an FIR, nor investigate, nor arrest without express directions from a competent court)

Bailable = you can get bail or anticipatory bail

Some states have made them cognizable. Although I think it is unlikely such a frivolous case would be the grounds to test it.  (Chandigarh police misuse 506, old article Misuse of 506 )

Again – there must be actual criminal intimidation first

There must be an element of criminal intimidation. This means that there must be a open or veiled threat to actually commit a crime.

None of these are even close to criminal intimidation.

Your tweet sucks big time. I hate your style. You are a fake socialist sell out. You overlook corruption, You dont know Hinduism, You dont know Islam, You are a closet Hindu/Muslim/Christian/Alien. You are Hindu/Muslim/Alien/ hater.  You yell.

The below would fall under criminal intimidation.

I am going to rob, burn, steal, maim, injure you personnally or cause damage to your property. Threats of a sexual nature. Obscenity and other communication intended to instill fear of crime.

For example : Saif Ali Khan was charged under 506 for threatening to kill journalists.

Misuse of an already overloaded judicial system. Millions of jailed poor cant get a trial date

So what about her threat ? Clearly IPC 506/507 is dubious in this case based on available evidence of public tweets. What she is really threatening to do is to put you through the process !  Using  connections it may be possible to obtain a warrant. You will have to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort at your expense to arrange for bail and defend it.  A terrifying thought for most professionals who cant take off work.

In a country where millions of poor are awaiting trial dates and a creaking overloaded judicial system  – it is in extremely bad taste to abuse the criminal justice system.

In mature democracies, such a misguided adventure would be met with stiff penalties from the court and ridicule from rival media channels. The person who is sued will  almost immediately turn around and seek damages from the individual or corporation – when the case is tossed out.

But we live in India.


14 Responses

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  1. Sandeep said, on February 11, 2010 at 6:04 am

    What a post Sirji!! Make sure you send this article to Ms. Ghose.

  2. Sudhir said, on February 11, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Yesterday, as a response to her article in HT comparing today’s politicians to Dhritarashtra, I tweeted to her saying:

    @sagarikaghose Dhritharashtra was actually blind, our leaders pretend to be blind…there is a sea of difference…

    What followed was this discussion…

    @ssudhirkumar “actually” blind. god, are you for real? The epics speak in complicated metaphors, D is THE metaphor of a blind king/parent..

    @sagarikaghose aha! now you are interpreting what the epics speak…nice. And ohh yeah, I am for real !

    @ssudhirkumar so ravana “actually” had ten heads? krishna “actually” supplied cloth from heaven?

    @sagarikaghose why are you extending it madam? why divert the topic?

    @sagarikaghose my point was to counter your comparison in your HT article. First you tell that you interpret epics it according to your wish

    @sagarikaghose and then you ask me if I believe Ravan had 10 arms..oops heads, and krishna actually supply cloth…

    @sagarikaghose frankly ma’am, I am at a loss as to how to argue and debate with you !!

    @sagarikaghose why do you find it so intolerant that I “Actually” believe D was blind? What just is wrong with it? And what’s with the tone?

    @ssudhirkumar do you “actually” believe that? don’t you think these are literary and narritive devices? do go beyond amar chitra katha..

    @ssudhirkumar Its not “intolerant” its simply moronic..):

    @sagarikaghose you find it “moronic” that I believe D was “actually” blind and it was not a metaphor? wow! get well soon ma’am.

    @sagarikaghose I am just a common man with simple understanding.I cannot comprehend complex, complicated metaphors. thank you for the gyan.

    Just goes on to show how she would want to potray her “Holier than thou” attitude..

    – Sudhir

    • Sandeep said, on February 11, 2010 at 6:18 am

      Interesting exchange. Now I *must* interact with Ghose on twitter. I love flame wars! 🙂

  3. rc said, on February 11, 2010 at 6:44 am

    While we are on the legal subject.

    I think IBN Live needs to get a better legal team. Many IBN personalities twitter page feature a link to the corporate website. They have no disclaimer that the twitter account does not reflect the views of the company.

    OTOH, NDTV bloggers do not link back to the company.

    The international practice is to have a professional blog related to your company and to keep it clean. A personal blog to represent your wilder side.

  4. jatkesha said, on February 11, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    @rc: Unfortunately, for the anchors of the mainstream Indian channels, the wilder side and the professional side are the same. 😉

  5. vikram said, on February 12, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Came to your blog for the first time – via Google Buzz.

    What and enlightening post, and what a piece of mind given to Ms Sagarika Ghose.

    Thanks a lot, for all the hardwork that goes into bringing up such insightful posts.

  6. Ot said, on February 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Sudhir, wish I was in your place. I’d have said:

    @sagarikaghose Ten heads for a person does stretch credulity, but I see blind dimwits on TV everyday!

    How’s that for metaphor? 😉

  7. […] media and its personalities in the recent weeks have shown themselves to be childish, partisan, and irresponsible name callers. Hopefully such incidents will make them change their ways and direct them to their main job. […]

  8. Vivek said, on February 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Ghosts are ghosts, always threatening the innocent! We should start a Munnabhai style “Get Well soon” campaign on twitter.

  9. dinesh_redhills said, on January 3, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    excellent post..but u forget her famous quote”internet hindus”….

  10. Prashanth K.P. said, on January 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Goshe’s disdain for aam aadmi and her self appraisal as being of supreme intelligence reeks of sheer contempt of not only her job but also her frustration of having to do one that is neither in her taste nor in her acumen. Whilst, with the assistance of her hubby, she manages to put words here and there to make out a blog, it’s hollowness becomes apparent to a reader. Reading,writing, compering and anchoring are all talents that require genetic inheritance and not worming or aping them by acting out like others, which is what she is and does. As regards to her IQ, less said the better, but it most certainly befits a housewife which is predominantly what she is. Her extrapolation that twitter is her personal baby and should be at her demand only shows her childish mental depth and understanding of a platform she can neither envisage nor compare it with so to speak. Her incongruity, like the several Barkhas, Nidhis, Arnabs etc from the MSM behold, is understandable. But to openly tender a threat under criminal acts sections which she would never have heard of ever augments her imbecilic understanding of any form of media. All I can persuade her to do is to shut up and do what is expected of her; a housewife.

    • Prashant said, on January 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      I enjoyed this post and laughed so hard at Prashanth’s comment that I choked.

      Being his namesake (without the ‘h’) is just a happy coincidence!

      Just 10 minutes of shrill news on any channel is enough to prove a complete absence of talent, skill or common sense. Watching them preen is painful. Stumbling through simple sentences, shrieking to make up for content they bungle on laboriously like the iron-jawed Karan Thapar.

      They publicly reveal their political bias and rudely dominate studio guests who are invited solely to suffer bitchy abuse.

      These petulant TV media professionals are neither professionals nor are they cut out for media or TV.

      But then again, we live in India where the right political connections turn eunuchs into Prime Ministers.

  11. parth092 said, on January 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    loved it sudhir.
    And agree wth vivek im starting this right now.

  12. […] are guilty of it. Haven’t we seen the illustrious Sagarika Ghose abuse Tweeple with impunity? Guttersnipe is her favorite phrase and if you probe further you could be showered with the choicest of abuses. But she is a self vowed […]

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