The Supreme Court has taken exception to a sessions court judgement that mentioned the name of the complainant in a rape case, Live Law reported on Friday.
“We are of the view that all the subordinate courts shall be careful in future while dealing with such cases,” the court said, noting it was well established that the identity of the complainant should not be revealed in rape cases.
A three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Vineet Saran and MR Shah was hearing a petition of a rape convict challenging his sentence of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. The convict approached the Supreme Court after the trial court judgement was upheld by the Chhattisgarh High Court. However, the Supreme Court too, dismissed his petition.
Last month, a vacation bench of the Bombay High Court had ordered a sessions court to remove all references disclosing the identity of the woman in its judgement in the 2013 sexual assault case against former Tehelka magazine editor Tarun Tejpal. In its order acquitting Tejpal, the sessions court had revealed the names of the woman’s mother and husband along with the complainant’s email ID.
The Bombay High Court is hearing the Goa government’s counter appeal against Tejpal’s acquittal.
In 2018, while hearing a petition related to revealing the identity of rape complainants, the Supreme Court had said they should not be named even after their death. The petition in this case mentioned the matter of the eight-year-old girl who was allegedly raped and then murdered in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2018.
Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code says rape complainants or survivors of other sexual offences prescribed by law cannot be identified without explicit permission. A violation could carry a fine and imprisonment of up to two years. The provision suggests that not only must the name of the complainant be concealed, any detail that could make the identity public is illegal.