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Hathras case: Delhi HC issues notice to social media outfits, media for disclosing victim’s identity

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The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice in a public interest litigation to several social media organizations and media houses for the alleged disclosure of the identity of the Hathras gangrape victim.

The division bench of Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh passed this order while hearing a PIL filed by Advocate Manan Narula through Advocates Suman Chauhan and Jivesh Tiwari.

The PIL alleged gross violation of Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code by the named publications/portals/news organizations and social media platforms.

The Court said that the present Public Interest Litigation is filed for seeking appropriate writ against the inaction of the Respondents No. 1 on the gross and violative actions of the Respondents No. 2 – 16 constituting an offence under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The petitioner submitted that on September 14, 2020, a girl was allegedly gangraped in Hathras District, Uttar Pradesh, India by four men, after fighting for her life for 2 weeks, she died in a hospital situated at New Delhi. Following such unfortunate event, Twitter has published information relating to the victim that disclosed the identity of the victim of the Hathras gangrape on domains that are in the public and are accessible to a large public.

The plea sought direction to the Delhi Police be directed to register the FIR against those who violated the Right of Privacy of the victim as they have committed offence under Section 228A of IPC was made out despite which there is no action taken by the respondent.

The petition also sought direction to Delhi Police to take appropriate action so that all respondents take down/withdraw any material, news article, social media post or any such information published by them with reference to the details of the identity of the victim in the particular case or similar cases.

The plea also prayed for orders to all the respondents and similar organisations or individuals that deal in broadcasting of information and be directed to broadcast correct legal provisions 228A IPC, by methods of short videos, clips, flashers, notes, news tickers, social media posts, social media stories or any similar means.

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The Court also directed the Delhi Police to organize legal awareness camps, legal literacy camps, lectures, interactive workshops, newspaper advertisements, hoardings to make people aware about the said legal provision. The matter would be heard next on February 5.

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