The Delhi High Court was informed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Friday that it supported the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which sought legal action against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for allegedly revealing the identity and details of a nine-year-old Dalit girl, who was raped and killed in a crematorium in Delhi.
NCPCR lawyer Swarupama Chaturvedi apprised the High Court that the petition against the Congress leader “is not infructuous and if the NCPCR gets a notice, it will file its response to that effect”.
The submission was made by the NCPCR Counsel before a Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, while hearing the PIL filed by one Makrand Suresh Mhadlekar, taking exception to Gandhi’s tweets, which showed the deceased girl’s parents photo.
The petitioner Mhadlekar said that these photos would reveal the identity of the victim girl and are consequently, in violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
The petitioner also added that as per Section 74 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and Section 23(2) of POCSO Act, 2012, a clear mandate talks of zero disclosure of the identity of the victim or his family members.
Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, who appeared for Twitter, said that the tweet in question has been geo-blocked in India but it cannot be banned globally.
Poovayya said that nearly 50 crore tweets are made on Twitter almost on a daily basis and, therefore, it is not possible to block all tweets which might have retweeted Gandhi’s post.
Though the NCPCR counsel asked a notice to be issued to them,but the court refrained as the petitioner has changed the course.The NCPCR has been given next date.
The court then listed the case for further consideration on December 7.
A nine year old girl was raped when she had gone to fill water from the cooler installed at crematorium in Purna Nangal area in Delhi where the priest and 3 others raped her.
Rahul Gandhi had subsequently visited the parents of the girl and photos of him consoling them were tweeted from his official Twitter handle.
On August 4, 2021, NCPCR took cognisance of the tweets and directed Twitter to take down the tweet by Gandhi.Twitter had subsequently suspended Gandhi’s account.
The High Court received a plea stating that Rahul Gandhi was trying to take advantage of the unfortunate incident to boost his political image, by disclosing the sensitive information about a family which lost a child.
The plea talked of about the punishment of such acts which can be imprisonment for a period of six months or one year under Section 23(2) of POCSO Act..
The petitioner requested the court done directing Delhi Police to register a first information report (FIR) against Gandhi under Section 23(4) of the POCSO Act and JJ Act.
The plea also sought appropriate directions be issued to the NCPCR, to take necessary legal action against Gandhi.