Is providing fake followers illegal, or merely unethical?
This is the first time that police have said they would register offences against those providing these services. Law enforcement agencies have so far not gone down this path. In Trivedi’s case, a fake profile of the singer was created — so, it was clearly a criminal offence of impersonation. However, there is no specific law in India to deal with cases involving only the buying and selling of fake accounts.
In the absence of a specific law, police can take recourse to Section 468 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with committing forgery of a document or electronic record for the purposes of cheating, Supreme Court advocate and cyber law expert Karnika Seth said. “Since a fake account is an electronic record that can be used to misrepresent, one could book a person under that,” she said. Cyber expert Vicky Shah, however, said that proving such a case in a court of law would be difficult.