The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked all media houses which revealed the identity of the 8-year-old Kathua gangrape-cum-murder victim to pay Rs 10L fine towards victim compensation fund maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir State Legal Services Authority for disbursement to victims/ families of the deceased victims of sexual violence.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar slapped the fine while stressing that revealing the identity of rape victim carries imprisonment.
The media houses apologised for making the victim’s identity public.
The court noted their submission that “the reporting in the print and electronic media enabling the identification of the eight-year old victim of gangrape and murder was on account of ignorance of the requirement of law and on a misconception that the reporting would facilitate the prosecution of the persons in right earnest.”
At this, the court, which was in favour of imposing a hefty penalty initially, imposed fine of Rs 10 lakh on each of the media house. The amount will be deposited in the Jammu and Kashmir victims compensation fund.
The court allowed the request of media houses to deposit the amount with the Delhi high court from where it will be transferred to J&K State Legal Services Authority.
The court was also assured by the media house that they will effect wide and continuous publicity of the laws on privacy of victims of sexual offences.
It is to be noted that the bench had on April 13 taken suo motu cognizance of the media houses disclosing the details of the gangrape victim.
It had appointed senior advocate Arvind Nigam as amicus curiae while Centre was represented by standing counsel Monica Arora.
Section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code makes publication of name etc of victim of sexual offences a punishable offence.
Clause 1 of section 228A (Disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences etc) says: “Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as the victim) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine”.
The matter is now listed for April 25.