A rape accused has moved the Kerala High Court seeking orders to preserve and protect his right to privacy and dignity until the conclusion of his trial in the case.
The petitioner has asserted that even an accused facing trial is entitled to the right to dignity and privacy which are guaranteed Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
He has, therefore, sought directions to take down the articles about him on The New Indian Express and the bail orders in his case published on Indian Kanoon.
He has also sought a direction to the Central government to frame guidelines to protect the privacy of the petitioner.
The petitioner has raised significant concerns about the impact of media coverage of criminal cases on the rights of not just the victim, but also the accused, in particular the presumption of innocence and their right to free trial.
“It is witnessed in many cases that media blatantly points fingers at anyone and cast aspersions on any institution in the name of fundamental right guaranteed to them, the doctrine of- innocence until proven guilty’ is openly flouted and the fundamental right of the accused to have a fair trial’ is trampled upon,” the plea states.
The petitioner is accused in a rape case and a crime was registered against him for allegedly committing offences punishable under Sections 376(2)(1) and 376(2)(n).
After spending over a month in custody, he was released on bail by the Kerala High Court.
Meanwhile, however, some articles were published on the online platform of newspaper, The New Indian Express about the case which included the petitioners name, some general details about his wife and children, and excessive details of the alleged acts.
The petitioner has contended that there was an obfuscation of facts as the accusations contained in the complainant’s impleading applications were projected as the reasons the Sessions Court refused bail before he approached the High Court.
The petitioner has also taken issue with the fact that the Kerala High Court order granting him bail was published in its entirety on the website of Indian Kanoon.
The article has his name and full address, where he resides with his wife and two minor daughters, the plea states.
It is contended that this is highly prejudicial to the petitioner as the case is still at its preliminary stage and has not yet been committed to the Sessions Court for trial.
Moreover, the online articles got circulated in the petitioner’s professional circle, following which he had to step down from some of his roles in the companies he worked for.
The plea states that in the age of rapid evolution of technology there is faster and uncontrolled dissemination of information and often, misinformation.
Public confidence in the judicial system is also affected by this and there is an imminent challenge to the basic principle of criminal jurisprudence that an individual is “innocent until proven guilty”
On these, among other grounds, the petitioner has sought orders from the High Court to protect his dignity, reputation and privacy, until the conclusion of his trial.
The petitioner is represented by advocates Geo Paul, Prem Kammath, CR Pramod, Radhika Rajasekharan, S Ashok Kumar, Simi V, Jacob George Pallath, Naveen TU and Anil K Vincent.