Bharatiya Janata Party leader Raghunandan Rao was on Tuesday booked for releasing pictures and a video of the minor girl who was gangraped in Hyderabad, the Hindustan Times reported, citing the police.
Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code prohibits disclosure of the identity of rape survivors. Those breaking the law can be punished with imprisonment up to two years.
On May 28, the 17-year-old girl and her friend had gone to a pub in the Jubilee Hills area of Hyderabad to attend a party where she was allegedly befriended by the accused persons. They offered to drop her home but instead took her to a secluded spot and allegedly gangraped her, the police said.
Four accused persons have been arrested by the police and one is still absconding.
Rao, who is also a lawyer, on June 4 alleged that an MLA’s son was involved in the gangrape.
At a press conference, Rao showed a video of the accused persons to reporters.
“I have not shown the face of the girl or exposed her identity, taking all the precautions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,” he claimed. “The faces of the accused individuals, however, can be seen. I have put forth the evidence before the police and the public. Now the police should determine if there was involvement of the MLA’s son.”
He also displayed printouts of screengrabs from the video.
Lawyer Karam Komireddy filed a complaint against Rao for revealing the girl’s identity to reporters. A case was registered at Abids Police Station, IANS reported.
“It shows the MLA [Raghunandan Rao] is interfering in the administration of justice and character assassination of the victim and it might have caused the minor victim a lot of distress,” local police officer P Naresh Kumar said, citing the complainant.
In his complaint, Komireddy said that the video and photos of the teenage girl went viral on social media after Rao’s press conference.
“Rao’s disclosures to the media were against the directions of the Supreme Court and also Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, which prohibits the disclosure of a child’s identity in any form of media,” read the complaint. “Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, states that no information or photo of a child should be published in any form of media.”
Komireddy has filed a similar complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Telangana State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, according to the Hindustan Times.
Rao said that he will let the case take its course legally, ANI reported.
“I am a law-abiding citizen,” the BJP MLA added. “The case registered against me was filed by the Congress. The [BJP] party stands with me.”