The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Centre and the governments of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi to respond to a plea seeking action against certain media houses that revealed the identity of the Hyderabad rape victim.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notices to the central and three state governments, as well as some media houses and social networking platforms on the petition.
The court also sought responses of Press Council of India and News Broadcasting Standards Authority of India on the plea which has sought initiation of appropriate proceedings against the media houses and individuals who have allegedly revealed the identity of the rape victim, which is an offence under the law.
Ministry of Home Affairs was represented through central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul in the matter.
The court asked them to file their replies and listed the matter for further hearing on December 16.
Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code makes disclosure of identity of victim of certain offences, including rape, punishable with imprisonment of a term that may extend to two years and a fine.
The petition filed by a Delhi-based lawyer said the plea aimed to curb the practice of exposure of identity of the rape victims in violation of the IPC sections and various Supreme Court precedents.
He said there was blatant violation of Section 228A by individuals and media houses by publishing elaborate reports revealing the identity of the victim and the four accused in Hyderabad rape case on various online and offline portals.
The plea also alleged that there was inaction of the state police authorities and their cyber cells to curb the constant revelation of identity of the victim and the accused persons.
A 26-year-old doctor was allegedly raped and killed in Shamshabad, Telangana, by four men on the night of November 27.
According to the Cyberabad Police, the four accused punctured the rear wheel of her scooter, offered to help her, dragged her to a secluded spot close to a toll plaza and raped her.
It said the victim died due to suffocation and the accused later burnt her body. The four accused were arrested and sent to judicial custody.
The petition said the news reports elaborately disclosed the identity of the victim, including her name, picture, occupation, residence and call details.
It said the identity of the victim has been blatantly exposed and the petitioner's grievance was that such violations were happening in every corner of every state of the country right under the nose of the police authorities and yet no action is being taken against any of these incidents.
The plea also sought direction to the authorities to prevent exposure of identity on online platforms, either directly or indirectly and blur the pictures which are being published.
It also sought to prohibit the publication of pictures of the accused before the trial has begun.
The petition sought direction to the investigating authorities to conduct themselves in a restricted manner so as to prevent the supply of information in the merits of the case to media and the common public.
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