Plea in Supreme Court seeks guidelines to protect identity of those accused of sexual offences

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea seeking guidelines to protect the identity of those accused of sexual offences till the investigation is completed, Hindustan Times reported.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Youth Bar Association of India and Reepak Kansal. The petition said such allegations could potentially destroy the life of an individual even if the person was innocent. It does not only destroy an individual’s life but creates a social stigma to the family members too,” Bar and Bench quoted the plea as saying.

A bench led by Justice SA Bobde issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting seeking their responses.

The plea said the media should be restrained from revealing the identities of accused, similar to how the identities of complainants are protected in sexual offences cases. “The allegations of sexual harassment tarnish the image, repute and goodwill of such persons in the society and it adversely affects his entire life in all terms even if, at later point of time, he is found to be innocent,” the petition claimed. “Need of the hour demands that some preventive measures must be taken so as to avoid and to deal with such situations in the interest of justice.”

The plea said suspects of sexual crimes should only be named after charges are proved beyond doubt to uphold the “innocent until proven guilty” principle.

Rajulben L Desai, a member of the National Commission for Women, said if the name of an accused remains concealed, it will “make matters worse for women”, according to the Hindustan Times. “In my experience, in several cases in the corporate sector, the officials fearing a dent on their reputation comply with the rules.”