< SC bars media from revealing identities of victims of rape and sexual assault | Current Affairs, Current Affairs 2019

SC bars media from revealing identities of victims of rape and sexual assault

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Aiming to ensure protection to the victims of rape and sexual assault, the Supreme Court has directed the print and electronic media not to reveal the identity of victims of rape and sexual assault even in a remote manner.

The SC bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta stated that it was not necessary to disclose the identity of victims of rape and sexual assault to “arouse public opinion and sentiment” as these issues need to be dealt with sensitively.

In its judgement, the SC bench said that the name and identity of victims of rape and sexual assault, including those who had died, cannot be disclosed “even in a remote manner”. The court said that it was “unfortunate” that such victims were being treated as “untouchable” by the society. The bench gave the ruling while refusing to agree with an argument that in certain matters, the victim’s name should be allowed to be disclosed as her name and face could become a “rallying point” to prevent other such sexual offences. It was argued before the court that when the victim’s name is disclosed, the victim becomes a symbol of protest or is treated as an iconic figure.

However, the bench stated that it is not at all necessary to disclose the identity of the victim to arouse public opinion and sentiment. The bench said that it is a serious issue dealing with victims of heinous sexual offences and it needs to be dealt with sensitivity. The bench while referring to the infamous December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi, said: “All of us are fully aware that without disclosing her true identity ‘Nirbhaya’ became the most effective symbol of protest the country has ever known. Hence, it said that if a campaign has to be started to protect the rights of the victim and mobilise public opinion it can be done so without disclosing the victim’s true identity. The court also said that the police should ensure that the correspondence or memos exchanged or issued, where the name of the victim is disclosed, are kept in a sealed cover and are not disclosed to the public at large. The bench said that the names should not be disclosed to the media and they shall also not be furnished to any person under the Right to Information Act, 2015.

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