SC refuses to hear plea seeking implementation of Guidelines on Protection of Rape Victims’ identity

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On Wednesday, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea which had sought proper implementation of guidelines regarding protection of identity of rape victims in wake of the publication of a photograph of the Hathras victim by some media groups. A 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly gang-raped by four men in Hathras on September 14. She died on September 29 at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital during treatment. Her cremation at night by the authorities, allegedly without the consent of her parents, triggered a widespread outrage.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana, which said the apex court do not think it proper to give any direction to the government to legislate in this regard, granted liberty to the petitioner to make representation to the ministries of Home Affairs, Law and Justice and Women and Child Development on the issue.

“Having heard the petitioners-in-person and perusing the averments made in the petition, we appreciate the efforts made by the petitioners-in-person but do not think it proper to give any direction to the government to legislate,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose.

While granting liberty to the petitioner to make representation to the authorities regarding the issues raised in the plea, the bench said, “We hope and trust that the respondents (authorities) shall consider the same and take appropriate action on that. During the hearing, the petitioner had also raised the issue of delay in the trial of cases of sexual violence.

These issues have nothing to do with law, said the bench, adding, Right to freedom of expression is there. There is enough law for this. It is unfortunate that such incidents happen. The plea had sought direction to the authorities for proper implementation of guidelines issued by the top court with regard to the protection of identity of rape victims along with making people aware about the guidelines by way of advertisements and disclaimers. It had also sought direction for introducing a compulsory subject on gender sensitization, moral and sex education in curriculum of school.

The plea had further said that authorities should bring certain reforms and amendments in the law to make it more deterrent in cases of rape with grievous injury, gang-rape and rape or gang-rape with murder by making stringent provisions of bail for accused as are in the case of offences under special enactments like the POCSO, the PMLA and the NDPS. It had said that stringent provisions should be made for punishing police officials for intentionally making lapses in investigation by not following the law in such cases.

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