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Media houses to pay penalty for revealing Kathua victim’s identity

Advocates representing the media houses admit to making the mistake of revealing the child’s identity owing to ignorance of the law and a misconception that they can name the victim as she is dead.

Some media houses, which had revealed the identity of the eight-year-old who was allegedly gang-raped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, were directed by the Delhi High Court on Wednesday to deposit ₹10 lakh as penalty towards the State’s rape victims compensation funds.

Last week, a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar took suo motu cognisance of the publication of photographs and the name of the child during the reportage of the alleged incident.

The Bench reminded that under Section 23 (Procedure for media) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, any person who discloses the identity of a child victim could be awarded a minimum six months imprisonment.

“There are long-term repercussions to the victim’s family, especially if there are other women in the house,” the Bench remarked.

The High Court had sought the response of The Times of IndiaThe HinduThe StatesmanThe PioneerThe Navbharat TimesNDTVFirstpostThe WeekThe Republic TVThe Deccan ChronicleIndia TV and The Indian Express.

Advocates representing media houses admitted to making the mistake of revealing the identity of the child on account of ignorance of the law and a misconception that they could name the victim as she was dead.

Taking note of the media houses’ apology, the Bench suggested that they give wide and continuous publicity to the statutory provisions of law regarding privacy of victims of sexual offences and punishment for revealing their identities.

Under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, anyone who reveals the identity of a victim of sexual violence and rape could be sent to a minimum two years imprisonment. The court said it would take up the issue of social media being used as a tool for revealing and disseminating the identity of victim of sexual violence at a later stage.

Earlier, the court said the “nature and manner” of the reportage was in “absolute violation of the specific provision of law disrespecting the privacy of the victim, which is required to be maintained in respect of the identity of a victim.”

The court has posted the case for further hearing on April 25.


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