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Published On: Wed, Apr 18th, 2018

Kathua rape and murder case: Delhi High Court slaps Rs 10 lakh fine on media houses

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78196-azxdkzqmbm-1516602288NEW DELHI  :The Delhi High Court today directed 12 media houses to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for revealing the identity of the eight-year-old Kathua rape victim in Jammu and Kashmir.
The court also indicated that it may enhance the amount that has to be deposited by the media houses in the Jammu and Kashmir Victim Compensation Fund, which have apologised for revealing the details of the victim.
It asked them to file separate affidavits explaining their conduct in three days and directed that the compensation amount of Rs 10 lakh each should be deposited with the registrar general of the high court within a week.
The bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar had taken suo moto cognizance of the matter and had pulled up the news networks for not following the stated norms with regard to coverage of such incidents.
“It is submitted that the reporting ..enabling identification of the 8-year old victim of gang rape and murder, was on account of ignorance of the requirement of law.. on a misconception that the reporting would facilitate the prosecution of the persons in the right earnest,” it had said.
The apex court had also put a prohibition on the media from disclosing the identity of the victim in the future, and added that the funds collected would be deposited in the J&K victim compensation scheme.
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 India, The Hindu, The Statesman, The Pioneer, The Navbharat Times, NDTV, Firstpost, The Week, The Republic TV, The Deccan Chronicle, India 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. 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. (With Agency Inputs ).

 

 

 

 

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