IG police, Health dept submit reports
Srinagar: The J&K High court on Friday directed You Tube, Facebook and Twitter to immediately remove all material/ posts/ publications which tend to disclose the identity of the infant victim of alleged rape in Sumbal Bandipora, and ensure that no such material is uploaded on their sites.
The court also issued notices to five newspapers of Kashmir to show cause as to why action should not be taken against them for revealing identity of the child.
“The Registry shall also issue court notice without process fee to the Kashmir Observer, Kashmir Vision, Kashmir Glory, Urdu Daily Afaaq & Urdu daily Ilhaaq to show cause as to why action be not taken against them for the violations of Section 23 of POCSO Act committed by them,” the court directed.
The direction was passed after the Amicus Curiae in the matter, Farah Bashir, enumerated the publications which had effected disclosure of the identity and name of the victim.
The Amicus Curiae listed: Kashmir Observer on May 12, publication through picture; Kashmir Vision on May 14 and 15, publication through picture; Kashmir Glory on May 14, publication through picture; Afaaq on May 14, publication of name in news item; and Ilhaaq on May 14, publication through picture.
Counsel Farah Bashir also gave details of the photos/ screenshots taken from electronic media displaying pictures of the child victim (some even fake) on You Tube and circulated on Twitter and Facebook.
She also drew attention of the court towards Section 44 of the POCSO Act of 2018 which casts a duty upon the State Government to give wide publicity through media including television, radio and print media at regular intervals to make the general public, children as well as their parents and guardians aware of the provisions of this Act.
After hearing the Amicus, the court directed the Information Department of J&K to place the report regarding the measures taken in terms of Section 44 of J&K POCSO.
Pursuant to the court order dated May 15, Additional Advocate General BA Dar submitted a report from the Inspector General of Police Kashmir in a sealed cover. The sealed cover was opened and the report was taken on record. “The Inspector General of Police Kashmir shall ensure that the investigation in the matter is conducted strictly in accordance with law,” the court directed.
The report from the IGP Kashmir also revealed that the age determination of the accused was underway. “The same shall be also strictly comported to the requirement of Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2013 and the Rules framed thereunder,” the court ordered.
A second report dated May 17 on behalf of Principal Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department, was also filed which revealed that the victim was initially medically examined on May 8 by Dr Ghazala, Medical Officer posted at Community Health Centre, Sumbal. Thereafter, she referred the child to SKIMS Medical College Bemina, Srinagar. The victim was again examined and a series of investigations conducted at SKIMS, the reports of which were handed over to police authorities. Certain articles, which were seized, were also handed over to the police for further investigation.
It was further informed that the victim was given proper medical treatment and she was in stable condition and was being provided with psychiatric counselling as well.
A direction was issued to the Member Secretary, J& K State Legal Services Authority, to place before the court an action plan and proper guidelines/ protocol to ensure linkage between police stations and offices of the Legal Services Authority in order to address the following:-
“i. Supply of information regarding any case of sexual violence immediately by the police authorities to the legal services authorities. This information can be transmitted using SMSs, Whatsapp, e-mail or telephones.
ii. The Legal Services Authority shall ensure legal aid to a victim right from the beginning i.e., from the stage of lodging of complaint and registration of the case; medical examination; recording of statement; throughout the trial and till the end of the case.
iii. The Legal Services Authority shall ensure that proper medical treatment was also administered to the victim.
iv. Release of compensation under the Victim of Compensation Scheme at the earliest, preferably within 24 hours of an incident of sexual violence being reported.
v. A proper protocol in this regard shall be placed before this Court within ten days from today,” the court directed.
Meanwhile, advocate Shafaqat Nazir on Friday asked the court to appear in the matter for the petitioner. He submitted that he had been instructed by the father of the victim to appear in the matter. The court allowed him and directed the state and the Amicus to provide him copies of the reports.
The court will again hear the matter on May 28.