The Supreme Court of India expressed displeasure over no action taken by the government in two cases where rape videos were uploaded on YouTube. On Friday, the Apex Court directed the CBI to publish the photographs of culprits in newspapers in Bengal, Odisha, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The Court also came down heavily on the government for failing to track down the persons till date.
The Bench consisting of Justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000/- on Government of Odisha for not responding to Court’s notice.
State of Telanganawas also fined Rs. 25,000/- for failing to track down persons who damaged the car of Sunita Krishnan, founder of NGO Prajwala that had bought the rape and video to the Court’s notice.
Prajwala, an NGO had uploaded videos on YouTube after morphing the pictures of victims. The NGO has claimed that it received the videos through WhatsApp. The NGO had then notified the government as early as February10;however, the government failed to act on the same.
The Court also ordered the CBI to file a status report by next Friday, i.e. March 20. Earlier, the Apex Court had sought responses from Bengal, Odisha, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and the ministry of home affairs and the department of telecommunications.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor-General Maninder Singh failed to satisfy the Court on many fronts as the Bench said, “Is it possible to decipher who has uploaded it?" the bench asked, to which Singh said the process has begun. "The person who has uploaded it... you can find out who has done it. Only then you will be able to identify the persons involved (rapists).”
Additional Solicitor-General Maninder Singh submitted that a FIR was lodged on March 12 and that a nodal officer was appointed to coordinate between CBI and department of information technology.
However, the Court said, “Tell us who is the officer responsible for this in the MHA. We want to know his designation and what steps he had taken after receipt of the notice. You also tell us what steps the CBI had taken.” It added, “Is it possible for you officers to identify the persons? If it is possible do it in the next few days. Unless you identify who has uploaded it, you can't take action. We are sorry, if the exercise has to be done, it should have been done by February itself. If you say it is impossible then it is a different exercise.”
The Court also said, “You must know that more than the crime (rape), it (video) has been circulated for pleasure. Therefore, you must go to the source and it should be done with an iron hand.”
Thereafter, the Court asked counsels appearing for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to which they said that the state government had taken steps regarding the investigation. Seeing no one appearing for State of Odisha, the Court said, “What about the state of Odisha? State of Odisha is not bothered. Why are they not bothered? Is it not a shocking incident for the state? So for state of Odisha it is not a shocking incident?” Accordingly, a fine of Rs. 50,000/- was put on the state.
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