The Supreme Court of India has prohibited print and electronic media from revealing identity of any rape or sexual assault victim in any manner.
It has said even the identity of rape victims who have died or are of unsound mind cannot be divulged even with the consent of the parents.
In an observation, the apex court on Tuesday said it was “unfortunate” that rape victims were being treated as “untouchables” in society while directing that names and identities of victims of rape and sexual assault should not be disclosed or revealed.
A bench headed by Justice Mada B Lokur directed the print and electronic media not to reveal identity of victims of rape and sexual assault even in a remote manner.
The apex court said FIRs in cases of rape and sexual assault, including those against minors, should not be put in public domain by police.
In a previous hearing, the top court was told that there was a need to strike a balance between the freedom of the press and the right of a victim to have fair trial in cases of crime against women.
Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, had told the Apex court that media was running a parallel trial in sub-judiced matters and it should frame guidelines on how to report the cases of crime against women.
Jaising had also claimed that police was leaking information to the media even before filing the chargesheet before a competent court, which amounted to interference in the administration of justice.
She referred to the Kathuagangrape-and-murder case and had claimed that even before the chargesheet was filed in the court, the media had pronounced the decision that some of the accused were innocent and not guilty of the offences.
An eight-year old girl, belonging to a minority nomadic community, was allegedly gangraped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
Jaisingh referred to the provisions of the IPC and the POSCO Act, which deals with disclosure of identity of victims of such offences and the procedure to be followed by the media in reporting these cases, as also the Contempt of Courts Act .
Earlier, the court had agreed to examine the provisions of law which provide curbs and balances for the media in reporting incidents of sexual assault, including that of minors, after a complaint that there have been “regular violation” of such provisions.