New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court, while questioning how the identity of minor or unsound mind rape victims could be disclosed, on Tuesday said it would examine the aspect related to the Indian Penal Code’s Section 228-A, dealing with identity of victims of sexual offences.
“How could the identity of a rape victim who is alive and minor or unsound mind be disclosed even after getting consent from her parents,” asked a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta.
“Why should the identity of a minor victim be disclosed just because her parents have given consent… Even if a person is of unsound mind, she has a right to privacy. A minor will become major. Why should this stigma be there for life?” they asked, also questioning disclosure of the identity of rape victims who had died.
“Think of the dignity of dead also. Media reporting can be done without naming or shaming them. The dead also have dignity,” they added.
The bench also raised the issue of power of parents giving consent to disclose the name of their minor rape victim child, saying if the parents are poor, they may be given money to disclose the name.
Saying that it will clarify the issue, the bench asked views of the Central government, which sought time.
The court’s observation came after senior advocate Indira Jaising, assisting the court as amicus curiae in case relating to sexual offences, raised the issue of Section 228-A and sought clarification on it.
She said the court has to clarify the issue as there cannot be a blanket ban on the media from reporting such incidents and the court have to balance freedom of press and the rights of the victim.
“I can’t agree with such draconian ban to freedom of press and civil societies,” she added.
Indirectly referring to the recent Kathua incident, the advocate said the victim had died and thousands of people seeking justice for the victim not only in India but also internationally.
The eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped and killed near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu region on January 10.
Section 228 A of the IPC lays down the provision barring the disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences.
As per it, whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom a rape/ sexual offence is alleged or found to have been committed shall be punished up to maximum two years of jail and fine.
But, there are circumstances under which the identity can be revealed like where the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the next of kin of the victim, “provided that no such authorisation shall be given by the next of kin to anybody other than the chairman or the secretary, by whatever name called, of any recognised welfare institution or organization”.
The court now listed the matter for hearing on May 8.
The bench was hearing the pleas filed after the gangrape and murder case of a paramedical student on December 16, 2012 raising concerns over safety and security of women.