Social Justice Bench of Apex Court takes suo motu cognizance of letters complaining of 2 rape videos circulating on WhatsApp

Social Justice Bench of Apex Court takes suo motu cognizance of letters complaining of 2 rape videos circulating on WhatsApp

The Social Justice Bench of the apex Court comprising of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice U.U. Lalit has taken suo motu cognizance of a letter on posting on two rape videos of WhatsApp. The Bench has directed the CBI to launch an investigation to nab the culprits and sought responses from the Centre and governments of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Delhi and Telangana. The Court took note of the fact that some of the culprits talk in Bengali accent.

The Court has also issued notices to Central Ministries of Home Affairs and Information technology, directing the MHA Secretary to forward the pen drive/ DVD to the CBI for probe. On complaint that there were several websites propagating videos of sexual crime, the SC also put such portals under its scanner.

The Court has demanded a response from the Centre regarding her on complaint that there were several websites propagating videos of sexual crime, the SC also put such portals under its scanner.

The letter was written by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala to Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu. The NGO has also sent the videos to the CJI in a pen drive. One video, spanning 4.5 minutes, shows a man raping a girl while another man is recording the monstrous act. The other video, which is 8.5 minutes long, shows gangrape of a girl by five culprits who have been shown smiling, cracking jokes, making a video and taking photos while they went about sexually assaulting the victim.

The letter also demands that the MHA should tie up with messaging systems and websites to prevent uploading of offensive videos. She also wants the court to direct states to have specialized training on issues related to cyber crime. It further mooted the idea of maintaining a National Sex Offenders Register which should contain details of persons convicted for offences like eve-teasing, stalking, molestation and other sexual assaults.

The Bench said that it has taken cognizance of the letter sent by the NGO and directed that a proper petition should be filed on March 9. The matter will be heard on March 13.

Earlier, Sunitha Krishnan had uploaded the videos on YouTube as she began #ShameTheRapist Campaign. Soon after, her vehicle was attacked and the videos were taken off YouTube, as it violated its terms of service. The edited videos had blurred the faces of the women. It had also shown the alleged rapists smiling into the cameras.

Read the interim orders here and here.