Hoax calls can lead to jail term

Bengaluru gets many hoax calls but most of them go unreported

Last Tuesday, a special court in Ahmedabad sentenced a man to life and fined him Rs 5 crore for creating a hijack scare aboard a Jet Airways Mumbai-Delhi flight in October 2017.

He was booked under the provisions of the recently passed Anti Hijacking Act, 2016.

Identified as Birju Kishor Salla, he planted a threat note in the aircraft’s toilet, claiming there were 12 hijackers aboard. He was arrested by the National Investigation Agency.

The menace of hoax calls has increased
drastically over the past few years and Bengaluru finds itself on the list of victims.

Though the city has had to deal with several hoax calls, many have gone unreported while some have been closed as they were ‘untraceable’.

Metrolife spoke to the city police, lawyers and psychologists to understand more about the different types of hoax calls and the laws related to it.

Technology helps cops in tracing perpetrators

“With ‘Truecaller’ and other such apps, we can instantly know who’s calling. With advanced technology, we can immediately trace the call and get their details,” says T Suneel Kumar, Bengaluru Police Commissioner.

He adds a criminal case is registered, depending on the severity of the crime. The person who made the call is charged with creating fear in people’s minds and causing obstruction to the functioning of the government.

People should report such calls immediately

“If the call harms a person or results in any sort of loss, then it is considered a crime and legal action will be taken,” says Seemanth Kumar Singh, Additional Commissioner of Police (law and order). 

He asks people to avoid giving details like OTP to unknown callers and says that they should report such calls immediately.

“They can either visit the nearby police station or call 100 to do so,” he says.

Punishment depends on magnitude of crime

“All prank calls cannot be considered legally offensive; it depends on the magnitude of the crime. The more severe the offence, the more severe its consequences,” says Alok Kumar, additional commissioner of police (crime).

He adds that most of the people who make these calls are not mentally stable.

He cites an incident from two months ago. They received a call from somewhere on the city outskirts, where the caller warned about 20 ISIS fighters entering Bengaluru.

“We traced the call and the person was booked under IPC Section 507, which deals with criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication,” says Alok.

The punishment can vary from a two-year jail term to life imprisonment. 

Only four cases on record

Metrolife asked the cops about the number of hoax call cases registered in Bengaluru over the last three years and we were surprised to find that the number was only four; all of them were from the Kempegowda International Airport(KIA).

One of the officials told us that not all hoax cases are officially registered.

What’s the status of the registered cases?

Among the four cases, two of them have been closed saying the culprit was ‘untraceable’, one case is pending in court and the other has been transferred to another jurisdiction.

Need for special enactment

Trivikram S, advocate in High Court of Karnataka, says that there is no special enactment under which these culprits can be booked. “They can be booked for causing mischief or similar provisions where the quantum of punishment is less,” he says.

Revenge, fear of missing flight behind some hoax calls

August 2018 - Aditya Rao, a resident of KHB colony in Manipal in Udupi district, made hoax calls to take revenge on Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) authorities for rejecting his application for a job. He was traced and arrested by the north-east division police. Aditya made a total of four calls in the same week to KIA.
Status: Chargesheet has been filed and the case is under trial in court.

February 2019 -A techie made a call warning of a bomb on the Surat-bound Air India flight. Identified as Prateek Rathore, the 49-year-old was arrested by city police. Prateek confessed he made the call as he was running late and was worried about missing his flight.
Status: Under investigation

April 2019 - A 65-year-old ex-Army man was arrested on charges of making a hoax call to the Bengaluru police control room, claiming that major cities in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andra Pradesh, Telangana, Pondicherry, Goa and Maharashtra will be hit by terror attacks.
Status: Under investigation

May 2019- A caller warned AirAsia officials in Bengaluru of possible danger to the flight
I5-588 travelling between Bagdogra in North Bengal to Kolkata. The caller said that he “would not be responsible” if anyone was hurt on board the flight.
Status: Under investigation

Behavioural disorders leads to people making hoax calls, say doctors

“Hoax calls arise from problematic psychology,” says Dr Rizwana Begum, director, Aviva Psychological Clinic.

“Such acts start for fun but if left unchecked, lead to more serious ones.”

According to her, such callers offer no explanation for their actions or even express remorse, when confronted.

A dysfunctional family set-up and negligent parenting are the main causes. “If a child commits a mistake, he/she should be stopped and brought on the right track. Neglect leads to them turning a deaf ear to everything later on,” she says.

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