Appoints Amicus Curiae to list all reports in media that have disclosed victim’s identity
Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday cautioned the media to not reveal identity of rape victims in any manner, with the strict direction that the court will proceed against such reporting/ responsible persons.
The court while taking suo motu cognizance of the Bandipora rape incident which took place on May 8, noted that the court’s attention had been drawn to extensive reporting in the media that had disclosed the identity of the minor victim. “Such reporting has done grave injustice to the privacy and dignity of the child,” the court said.
The division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan said that the court was of the view that immediate action had to be taken to identify reports in print and electronic media wherein the provisions of Section 23 of the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Ordinance (POSCO), 2018, have been violated. The court directed that action had to be taken against the persons responsible for the same.
In the regard, the court appointed Advocate Farah Bashir as Amicus Curiae and directed her to give details of reports which have been published in print and electronic media in violation of Section 23 of POSCO 2018.
The court said, “We shall proceed in respect of such reports upon receiving the list and copies of the reports.”
The court referred to Section 23 of the POSCO 2018 which governs procedure for media to write about child rape. It states that no person shall make any report or present comments on any child from any form of media. It also states that no reports in the media shall disclose the identity of the child including name, address, photograph, family details, school, neighbourhood or any other particular which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child.
The Section 23 also states that the publisher/owner of the media outlet shall be jointly liable for the acts and omissions of his employee and any person who contravenes the provisions shall be liable to be punished and imprisoned for a period not less than six months, but which may extend to one year or fine or both.
Section 228-A of the Ranbir Penal Code, Svt, 1989 also cautions any person who reveals identity of a minor victim in any manner and provides for punishment of imprisonment of two years with a fine.
The court said, “The statutory provisions are stringent, compliance thereof is mandatory and contravention is punishable.”
Meanwhile, the court today while registering a writ petition in public interest impleaded Inspector General of Police Kashmir, State of J&K, Department of Health & Medical Education, and J&K Legal Service Authority to file their reports on the issue.
The court directed Inspector General of Police Kashmir to file a report with respect to effective investigation into the matter as well as protection to the victim and her family. The Department of Health & Medical Education was directed to file a report regarding medical examination, medical treatment and counselling administered to the victim.
Member Secretary, J&K Legal Services Authority, was directed to file a report in view of giving effective legal aid granted to the victim and status of the release of compensation admissible to the minor.
Also, the Member Secretary was directed to file a report regarding all measures including sensitisation programs underway in the matter relating to sexual violence.
The court called for all such reports by May 17, with a direction to State Counsel BA Dar to positively file reports before the bench.
The court also noted that sexual violence unfortunately was endemic to human beings and not confined to any particular culture, class, religion, age or geographical location, despite strict legislations in place for providing stringent punishments.
The court said that to address these concerns, it was important to carry out sensitising programmes frequently among children.