Central Government has filed its reply before the Delhi High Court in a PIL seeking action against media portals that had published the identity of the Hyderabad rape victim and the accused persons.
At the outset, Union Government has clarified that the direction sought in the said plea doesn't fall under the mandate of Ministry of Home Affairs. It says that as 'police' and 'public order' are state subjects, the responsibility to maintain law and order, protection of life and property of the citizens, rest with the state governments.
Further, it is submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, that as per the Supreme Court's judgment in Nipun Saxena case, an advisory dated 16.01.2019 was issued to all state governments and UTs, mentioning the said directions:
a. No person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of the victim or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make her identity known to the public at large.
b. In cases where the victim is dead or of unsound mind the name of the victim or her identity should not be disclosed even under the authorization of the next of the kin, unless circumstances justifying the disclosure of her identity exist, which shall be decided by the competent authority, which at present is the Sessions Judge.
c. FIRs relating to offences under Sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376E of 39 IPC and offences under POCSO shall not be put in the public domain.
d. In case a victim files an appeal under Section 372 CrPC, it is not necessary for the victim to disclose his/her identity and the appeal shall be dealt with in the manner laid down by law.
e. The police officials should keep all the documents in which the name of the victim is disclosed, as far as possible, in a sealed cover and replace these documents by identical documents in which the name of the victim is removed in all records which may be scrutinised in the public domain.
f. All the authorities to which the name of the victim is disclosed by the investigating agency or the court are also duty bound to keep the name and identity of the victim secret and not disclose it in any manner except in the report which should only be sent in a sealed cover to the investigating agency or the court.
g. An application by the next of kin to authorise disclosure of identity of a dead victim or of a victim of unsound mind under Section 228A(2)(c) of IPC should be made only to the Sessions Judge concerned until the Government acts under Section 228A(1)(c) and lays down a criteria as per our directions for identifying such social welfare institutions or organisations.
h. In case of minor victims under POCSO, disclosure of their identity can only be permitted by the Special Court, if such disclosure is in the interest of the child.
The present plea, moved by Yashdeep Chahal, argues that such exposure of names, addresses, pictures, work details, etc of the victim and the accused persons, violates section 228A of IPC and the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the Nipun Saxena case.
Next date of hearing is scheduled to be on February 4.