The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad Bench has given directions to the electronic media, print media, social media users such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc, to be cautious before circulating information regarding rape cases so that the victim is not identified directly or indirectly.
A division bench of T.V Nalawade and M.G. Sewilikar listed a number of data that nobody should disclose in a manner that the victim will be identified directly or indirectly. This data included names of parents or relatives of the victim, a relation of the accused with the victim, address of the accused and the victim, occupation of parents or other relations of the victim and place of work of the victim, details of family background and the victim’s school or college or place of work.
The High Court observed that despite giving clear instructions to the media by the Supreme Court restricting media from the disclosure of such information, the media continued giving out such details in a manner that the victim can be easily identified.
There are instances where the news mentions the place of work of the victims or the accused by which the identity of them can be easily traced, the Court said.
The high court directed that the victim and accused must be referred to as ‘x’ or any alphabet while framing charges.
While recording evidence if a witness mentions the victims’ name then the court shall record that the victim stated the victims’ name but to conceal it, her name is not recorded. The victim should be referred to in the same way as mentioned during the framing of charges.
If the witness itself is the victim the court said, their name should not be disclosed. Their name, age, occupation, etc. should be kept sealed in an envelope and she can be referred in the same manner as mentioned while framing charges.
The Court ruled in response to a PIL filed by the mother of a rape victim seeking direction to the electronic and print media not to disclose the name and identity of the rape victim. The petitioner alleged that the media revealed the facts of the crime in a manner that the identity of the victim can easily be traced.
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