- The top court said names of rape survivors can't be used in rallies
- Police or forensic authorities cannot disclose names of rape survivors
- It said FIRs of sex assault cases should not be put up on public domain
The Supreme Court today barred media organisations and law-enforcement agencies from revealing the identity of sexual assault victims, even if they are dead, and laid down a number of guidelines aimed at safeguarding their dignity. It also said that the names of such people cannot be disclosed at public rallies or on social media platforms.
"Police or forensic authorities cannot disclose the names of rape victims either, even with the parents' consent," a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta ruled on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Nipun Saxena. "Also, FIRs of sexual assault cases, especially those involving minors, should not be placed on the public domain."
Advocate Saxena had moved the court to seek appropriate measures for ensuring the safety of women at public places in the wake of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.
While listing out the guidelines, the top court expressed regret over the harassment and social boycott rape that victims are subjected to after the incident. "It is unfortunate that rape victims are treated as untouchables in our society," it said.
The top court was especially scathing about protest rallies being taken out in the name of sexual assault victims. "We are not impressed by victims being turned into icons at protest rallies," the bench said. "The identities of even the dead or those of unsound mind cannot be disclosed in any manner, even with the parents' nod. Such an action will need the court's permission."
The country had witnessed massive protests earlier this year after an eight-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district. Many rights groups expressed dismay over the manner in which the girl's identity was freely disclosed during this time.
In its guidelines laid down for the media, the Supreme Court ruled that rape survivors cannot be interviewed unless they personally approach the news agency concerned. "Sensationalising an incident to increase TRPs (television rating points) must be avoided," it said.
Besides this, the court instructed states and union territories to adopt other measures, including the installation of "one-stop centres" in each district within a year, to counsel and rehabilitate rape survivors. It also asked forensic lab authorities to protect the identity of victims by submitting their reports to the court in a sealed cover.
(With inputs from Agencies)