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Name Of Victim In Sexual Offences Shall Not Be Mentioned In Any Proceedings, Subordinate Courts Shall Be Careful: Supreme Court

Shrutika Pandey
2 July 2021 3:11 AM GMT
Name Of Victim In Sexual Offences Shall Not Be Mentioned In Any Proceedings, Subordinate Courts Shall Be Careful: Supreme Court
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A three-judge Bench of Supreme Court comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah took strong objections to a Sessions Court Judgment where the names of rape victim is mentioned. The Bench held that all the subordinate courts should be careful not to reveal the identity of a rape victim in any proceedings. "It is well established that in cases like the present...

A three-judge Bench of Supreme Court comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah took strong objections to a Sessions Court Judgment where the names of rape victim is mentioned. 

The Bench held that all the subordinate courts should be careful not to reveal the identity of a rape victim in any proceedings.

"It is well established that in cases like the present one, the name of the victim is not to be mentioned in any proceeding. We are of the view that all the subordinate courts shall be careful in future while dealing with such cases", the Bench observed.

The plea was preferred by a rape convict, sentenced by the trial court to ten years of rigorous imprisonment for the rape of a minor girl under Section 376(1) and 342 of the Indian Penal Code, affirmed by the Chattisgarh High Court.

Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 relates to disclosing the identity of the victim of certain offenses etc. The provision lists the circumstances under which one can legally name and publish the identities of the rape survivors, leaving the choice on adult victims. It is a cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable offense triable by any magistrate with a punishment of upto two years and fine. Section 228(A)(1) reads as follows:

"Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offense under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as the victim) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine"."

Supreme Court in Bhupinder Sharma v. State of Himachal Pradesh held as follows; 

"We do not propose to mention name of the victim, section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short 'IPC') makes disclosure of identity of victim of certain offences punishable. Printing or publishing name of any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under Sections 376, 376-A, 376-B, 376-C, or 376-D is alleged or found to have been committed can be punished. True it is, the restriction does not relate to printing or publishing of judgment by High Court or Supreme Court. But keeping in view the social object of preventing social victimisation or ostracism of the victim of a sexual offence for which Section 228-A has been enacted, it would be appropriate that in the judgments, be it of this Court, High Court or lower Court, the name of the victim should not be indicated we have chosen to describe her as 'victim' in the judgment".

In 2018, a division bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Madan B. Lokur issued a 9-point guideline to protect the privacy and reputation of victims of rape crimes. In the same year, Delhi High Court imposed a fine of Rs 10L on all media houses, which revealed the identity of the 8-year-old Kathua gangrape-cum-murder victim. The Court directed to deposit the fine towards the victim compensation fund maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir State Legal Services Authority for disbursement to victims/ families of the deceased victims of sexual violence.

An identical provision exists under Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO) prohibiting the disclosure of name, address, photographs, family details, school, neighborhood or any other particulars which may lead to the disclosure of the identity of a victim of sexual offences.

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