Media houses apologise for revealing Kathua victim's identity

Students hold placards at a peaceful sit-in protest demanding justice for Kathua rape case victim, in Srinagar on Tuesday. (PTI file photo for representation)
Highlights: 
Advocates representing media houses told the court that the mistake of revealing the identity of the victim was due to their ignorance of the law and a misconception that they could name her as she was dead.
The bench also directed that wide and continuous publicity be given to the statutory provisions of law regarding privacy of victims of sexual offences and punishment for revealing their identities.

Media houses, issued notices for revealing the identity of the eight-year-old Kathua rape victim, on Wednesday apologised before the Delhi High Court and were directed to pay Rs 10 lakh each to the Jammu and Kashmir Victim Compensation Fund.

Advocates representing media houses told the court that the mistake of revealing the identity of the victim was due to their ignorance of the law and a misconception that they could name her as she was dead.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed that the compensation amount be deposited with the registrar general of the high court within a week and the money be transferred to the Jammu and Kashmir legal service authority's account to be used for Jammu and Kashmir's victim compensation scheme.

The bench also directed that wide and continuous publicity be given to the statutory provisions of law regarding privacy of victims of sexual offences and punishment for revealing their identities.

Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) law lays down the procedure for the media to report cases of sexual offences against child victims and Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with disclosure of identity of victims of such offences. The penal law provides for jail term of two years with a fine.

On April 13, the high court issued notices to 12 media houses for disclosing the identity of an eight-year-old girl who was gang-raped and killed in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Of the 12, counsel for nine media houses were present in the court on Wednesday.

The court had earlier prohibited them "from effecting any publication, including the name, address, photograph, family details, school details, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may have an effect of leading to the disclosure of the identity of the child victim".

In its news reports in connection with the case, The Press Trust of India has not disclosed the name or put out a photograph of the victim.

The eight-year-old from a minority nomadic community had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu region on January 10.

Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The state police's Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed a main charge sheet against seven people and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district last week.

The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

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