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Rediff.com  » News » Law states that naming rape victim can put you behind bars

Law states that naming rape victim can put you behind bars

January 02, 2013 11:42 IST
Union Minister Shashi Tharoor has favoured making public the identity of the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim. Vicky Nanjappa explains why doing so is against established legal norms

There has been a raging debate on whether the Delhi gang rape victim's name should be revealed or not.

But the law clearly states that any person disclosing the name of a rape victim will have to serve a two-year jail term.

Should gang-rape victim's name be revealed? 

Section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with disclosure or identity of the victim of certain offences, reads: '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.

(2) Nothing in the given sub-section extends to any printing or publi­cation of the name or any matter, which may make known the identi­ty of the victim if such printing or publication is:-

(a) By order in writing of the officer-in-charge of the police station or the police officer making the investigation into such offence acting in good faith for the purposes of such investigation.

(b) Authorisation in writing of, the victim; or

(c) Where the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the next of kin of the victim. Provided that no such authorisation shall be given by the next of kin to anybody other than the chairman or the secretary, by whatever name called, of any recognised welfare institution or organisation. For the purposes of this sub-section, "recognised welfare institution or organisation" means a social welfare institution or organisation recognised in this behalf by the central or state government.

(3) Whoever prints or publishes any matter in relation to any proceeding before a court with respect to such an offence without the previous permission of such court 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 punishment shall be imprisonment for two years and fine, cognizable, bailable, triable by any magistrate and also non-compoundable.'

Experts say that this restriction, however, does not relate to printing or publication of judgment by the high court or Supreme Court. However, in view of preventing social victimisation, this section was implemented and has also been covered in the judgments in the
Ramdev vs State of Punjab case of 2004.

The section was introduced by the law makers to protect the honour of the sexually-victimised women but also make it possible for them to depose in court without any fear of societal ostracism.

 

Vicky Nanjappa