The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that rape victims should not be named at all in media reports, and agreed to examine Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with disclosure of the identity of those who have been sexually assaulted.
The court was hearing a petition that pointed out how the identity of victims, including that of the eight-year-old girl who was allegedly raped and then murdered in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, in January, were disclosed.
The Supreme Court said that the identity of victims, whether children or adults, should not be revealed even if they had been murdered, PTI reported. “Think of the dignity of the dead also,” Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. “Media reporting can be done without naming or shaming them. The dead also have dignity.”
The court said that the identities of rape survivors, even if they are either minors or of unsound mind, should not be revealed as they have the right to privacy and should not “live with stigma”.
“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,” the court said, according to IANS . “A minor will become major. Why should this stigma be there for life?”
Senior lawyer Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, told the judges that it was necessary for the top court to clarify Section 228-A. She said that there should not be a blanket ban stopping the media from reporting such incidents. She urged the top court to balance the freedom of the press and the rights of victims.
After the bench agreed to examine the section, the Centre’s counsel asked for time to seek instructions. The court has listed the matter for further hearing on May 8.