J&K HC Directs YouTube, FB & Twitter To Remove All Publications Disclosing The Identity Of Minor Rape Victim

J&K HC Directs YouTube, FB & Twitter To Remove All Publications Disclosing The Identity Of Minor Rape Victim

Jammu & Kashmir High Court on Friday directed the YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to remove all materials/posts/publications which tend to disclose the identity and name of the infant victim of the sexual violence in the incident on 8th of May 2019 in District Bandipora of Kashmir and to ensure that no such material is uploaded on their channels.

Amicus Curiae Farah Bashir apprised bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan of five publications that violated norms, setting out the details of the print and electronic media wherein the incident of alleged sexual violence of three-year-old minor girl child have been reported.

Farah submitted the details of the photos/screenshots taken from the electronic media displaying pictures of the child victim (some even fake) on the YouTube and circulated on Twitter & Facebook. Attention of court was also drawn towards Section 44 of the Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act of 2018, which casts a duty upon the State Government to give wide publicity through media including television, radio and print media at regular intervals to make the general public, children as well as their parents and guardians aware of the provisions of this Act.

Registry was directed by court to issues notices to the five publications to show cause as to why action be not taken against them for the violations of Section 23 of POCSO Act committed by them as noted above returnable on 28th May 2019. Court also highlighted excerpts from the judgment of apex court in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India so far as reports and posts on intermediaries are concerned. It said that the permissibility of the court to fasten liability for violations of Section 23 of the J&K POCSO Act against intermediaries and service providers would have to be examined.

Court also directed the Information Department of J&K to place before it the report regarding the measures taken in terms of Section 44 of J&K POCSO and directed Member Secretary, J&K State Legal Services Authority to place before the court an action plan and proper guidelines/protocol to ensure linkage between the police stations and the offices of the Legal Services Authority regarding coordination in sexual offence cases.

Inspector General of Police Kashmir in his status report had submitted that age determination of the accused is underway and court directed IGP to ensure compliance with requirement of Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2013 and the Rules framed thereunder and to ensure that the investigation in the matter is conducted strictly in accordance with law.

Court had on Wednesday taken suo motu cognizance of the case and had directed IGP Kashmir to file a status report by Friday. Now Advocate Shafqat Nazir will represent the minor rape victim in the case.

A three-year-old girl was allegedly raped last week in Sumbal area of Bandipora leading to widespread outrage and protests against the incident. Internet services were snapped in most areas of Kashmir as a precautionary measure.

Condemnations poured in from all quarters and Kashmir Women's Collective condemning the incident called it as case of "heart-wrenching abuse and violence". Their statement read:

"Don't let any abuse go on silently. Don't hide abuse. Report to the police and pressurize them to take it seriously. No forgiveness in case of sexual abuse and domestic violence or any crime against women. It is your responsibility, it is our responsibility."

Court has fixed May 28 as next date of hearing in the case.