The Delhi High Court on Friday was told by the Centre that divulging rape victim’s name is a “criminal offence”.
The Centre’s reply came on the plea filed by one Yashdeep Chahal who alleged that individuals and media outlets reported the name of the veterinarian who was raped and murdered in Hyderabad last month thereby blatantly infringing the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The petitioner had therefore sought initiation of trial against media houses and individuals.
“Exposure of names, addresses, pictures, work details, etc of the victim and the accused persons, violates section 228A of IPC and the law laid by the Supreme Court in the Nipun Saxena case,” the petition said.
The Centre cited various judgments and said that the name should not be divulged “even under the authorisation of the next of the kin, unless circumstances justifying the disclosure of her identity exist, which shall be decided by the competent authority”.
The court listed the matter for next hearing to Feb 4 and asked other parties to file their replies.
In the Nipun Saxena case, the apex court had given following guidelines:
- No person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of the victim or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make her identity known to the public at large.
- In cases where the victim is dead or of unsound mind the name of the victim or her identity should not be disclosed even under the authorization of the next of the kin, unless circumstances justifying the disclosure of her identity exist, which shall be decided by the competent authority, which at present is the Sessions Judge.
- FIRs relating to offences under Sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376E of IPC and offences under POCSO shall not be put in the public domain.
- In case a victim files an appeal under Section 372 CrPC, it is not necessary for the victim to disclose his/her identity and the appeal shall be dealt with in the manner laid down by law.
- The police officials should keep all the documents in which the name of the victim is disclosed, as far as possible, in a sealed cover and replace these documents by identical documents in which the name of the victim is removed in all records which may be scrutinised in the public domain.
- All the authorities to which the name of the victim is disclosed by the investigating agency or the court are also duty bound to keep the name and identity of the victim secret and not disclose it in any manner except in the report which should only be sent in a sealed cover to the investigating agency or the court.
- An application by the next of kin to authorise disclosure of identity of a dead victim or of a victim of unsound mind under Section 228A(2)(c) of IPC should be made only to the Sessions Judge concerned until the Government acts under Section 228A(1)(c) and lays down a criteria as per our directions for identifying such social welfare institutions or organisations.
- In case of minor victims under POCSO, disclosure of their identity can only be permitted by the Special Court, if such disclosure is in the interest of the child.
—India Legal Bureau