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Amba Charan Vashishtha

The writer is a Delhi based Political Analyst and Commentator

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By Amba Charan Vashishth

A teenager of 15 from West Midnapore district of West Bengal, a 14-year old student  from Andheri in Mumbai and a boy of 15 from Jalgaon in Maharashtra have one thing in common: they all logged on to the “Blue Whale challenge” game online and ended up in committing  suicide. According to reports, the participants in the end are goaded into committing suicide.

It is a clear case of abetment and inducement to suicide under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): “If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

No gainsaying the fact that the company which launched this online game is guilty of an offence under Section 306 IPC.  Since the suicides have taken place in India, the company is surely guilty. Why can’t those involved in promotion and popularising this game and thereby abetting commission of this crime be brought to book?  If those committing a similar act in India are tried and punished under the law, why should owners of this game be spared? They should not be allowed to go scot free.

It is good that the government has directed websites and online companies to offload the “Blue Whale” game so that Indian teenagers are not able to have access to it. But as long as those guilty of having committed this crime, directly or indirectly, are not brought to justice, the step will remain half-hearted.

 

Cheating through glossy ads

Our print and electronic media is flooded with misleading ads that induce unsuspecting consumers to part with their hard-earned money to purchase certain goods and services. We see advertisements ordinary individuals modeling donning white coats exhorting public to use and buy certain medicines, toothpastes and other consumer goods creating the façade of these being recommended by doctors and persons from medical profession. But, in reality, they are just models who, for money, are made to do or say so before a camera. These persons are neither from the medical profession nor remotely connected with it. Their professions and claims are not more real than our film personalities performing miraculous operations donning white coats in the make-believe super quality operation theatres.

 

Builders turn ‘dreams’ sour

Similarly, cases of two well-known builders have surfaced in which one company has gone in for liquidation and the other has failed to deliver the promised flats even after six-seven years. Those who bought flats are on the street protesting. Interestingly, there were some prominent celebrities who induced people to part with their money on false inducements and promises through glossy advertisements to own ‘dream’ villas, homes, flats and plots .

These cases constitute offences of cheating under Section 415 IPC which defines cheating: “Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any proper­ty to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”. Explanation.—A dishonest concealment of facts is a deception within the meaning of this section”. (Indiankanoon.org)

It is not the builders alone who have committed the crime of cheating. In fact, equally culpable are the celebrities, film heroes/heroines who work brand ambassadors of a product and induce people to part with their money on false inducements and promises. The generally too credulous public is taken in by the glamour of the celebrities whose fans cannot even imagine that these great men/women can take them for a ride like a film villain. Their responsibility does not end with receiving hefty fee for appearing on the electronic and print media. Therefore, the celebutantes cannot escape the charge of connivance in ths act of cheating which falls under Section 120-B IPC:(1) Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, 2[imprisonment for life] or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made in this Code for the punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.

(2) Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as aforesaid shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or with fine or with both.]

 

The builders too should not be allowed to flee away with the booty of the exploits of their false promises at the altar of the misery of those who shelled hefty amounts out of their hard-earned money. They cannot absolve themselves of their criminal liability.


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