Lead by the Kathua Rape Case, the Delhi High Court has issued a notice to several media houses for disclosing the identity of the eight-year-old girl who was gang-raped and killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, which took up the issue on its own after coming across print and electronic media reports, sought a response from the media houses, asking why action should not be taken against them on the matter.
Delhi HC ordered 12 media houses who revealed identity of Kathua victim to pay ₹10 lakh each to court. HC will transfer amount to Jammu & Kashmir victims compensation fund.
Delhi HC ordered 12 media houses who revealed identity of #Kathua victim to pay ₹10 lakh each to court. HC will transfer amount to J & K victims compensation fund.
— Prashant P. Umrao (@ippatel) April 18, 2018
The court has decided to transfer the collected amount to Jammu and Kashmir victim’s compensation fund. The court has further warned that anyone disclosing rape victim’s identity can be imprisoned for six-month.
The next date of hearing, in this case, is slated for April 25.Earlier on April 13, the High Court issued a notice to various media houses for disclosing the identity of an eight-year-old girl. The court also prohibited the media from revealing any further identity of the victim.
The alleged gangrape and murder of the eight year old girl, who belonged to the nomadic Muslim community, took place in January. After being missing for a week, her body was found on January 17.
The High Court refers to two provisions of law which prohibit disclosure of the identity of victims of sexual crimes:
One among them is Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO) prohibits the media specifically from disclosing the name, address, photograph, family details, school, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of a victim of sexual offences against a child. Committing this offence is punishable with imprisonment for 6 months to 1 year, and publishers/owners of media houses will be responsible along with whoever wrote the story.
And the second one is Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC) prohibits the printing or publishing of the name or any other detail which discloses the identity of a victim of rape (section 376, 376 A-E of the IPC). This can be waived by the victim, or, where the victim is dead, by the family of the victim, to the specific authorities. Committing this offence is punishable with imprisonment for up to 2 years.
The advocates representing the media houses are reported to have told the court that they revealed the identity of the victim by mistake and ignorance of law because they thought it was okay to name her as she was dead.
Pronouncing the order, the bench also directed that information about the law regarding privacy of victims of sexual offences and punishment for revealing their identities should be publicised.
The court had earlier prohibited the media houses “from effecting any publication including the name, address, photograph, family details, school details, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may have an effect of leading to the disclosure of the identity of the child victim”.
A girl from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rassana village in Kathua on 10 January. A week later, her body was found in the same area.
The state police crime branch, which probed the case, filed a main chargesheet against seven accused persons and a separate chargesheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week. The chargesheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, raped inside a place of worship before being killed.