PIL to protect sexual offence accused's identity: SC

(Representative Image) (File Image)

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a plea for framing guidelines to protect identity, reputation and integrity of individuals accused of sexual offences till the time investigation proved the veracity of the charges.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and B R Gavai issued notice to the Union government's Ministry of Law and Justice and Information and Broadcasting and others on a PIL filed advocate Reepak Kansal and Youth Bar Association of India, which pointed out that the right to a dignified life was a part of right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The petitioners, led by senior advocate J M Sharma, agreed to delete the Supreme Court of India from an array of parties-respondent from the petition.

The petitioners pointed out Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code provided punishment for disclosing the identity of the victims but it did not ensure any safeguard for the protection of the identity and integrity of the accused in case of false accusation.

“A false accusation sometimes destroys the entire life of an innocent person and there have been instances where the person who has been falsely implicated have even committed suicide. It does not only destroy an individual’s life but creates a social stigma to the family members too. The need of the hour demands that some preventive measures must be taken so as to avoid and to deal with such situations in the interest of justice,” it stated.

The petition cited innumerable instances, including that of ISRO scientist S Nambi Naryanan who had to suffer serious damage to their reputation, due to false charges.

“In the present time where people are more active in the virtual world, the reputation and integrity of a person is always an easy target to destroy. It is true that the Constitution of India has guaranteed its citizens the right to free speech but it doesn’t mean that it shall be misinterpreted and consequently anyone can be defamed,” it said.

The petitioner sought a direction for framing guidelines to protect the identity and reputation of individuals till the truthfulness of such allegations was established in the light of the judgment 
rendered by this court in the case of ‘Vishaka & Ors V State of Rajasthan and Ors'.

They also wanted a direction to the print, electronic as well as social media to not to disclose the identity of individuals until and unless such crime was investigated by the competent agency.

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