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sc india

Identity of a rape victim cannot be disclosed : Supreme Court

A rape victim suffers not only a mental trauma but also discrimination from the society. The Supreme Court bench consisting of J. Ashok Bhushan, J. R. Subhash Reddy and J. M. R. Shah, directed executive officials to provide housing and protection to a rape victim in the matter of Ms. X v. The State of Jharkhand & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1352 of 2019].

The Petitioner, who claims to be a Scheduled Tribe, was taken away by  Basant Yadav, after which she was married to him by her father. One son was born out of marriage after which the Petitioner filed a complaint as well as case for maintenance against her husband. After obtaining divorce, the custody of the son was given to Basant Yadav. One day, the petitioner went to meet her son when she was raped by Mohd. Ali and three other accused. A case under Section 376/34 read with Section 3(xi) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was registered in which the accused, Mohd. Ali was apprehended and put on trial. The petitioner lodged an FIR against the Inspector General of Police under Section 376, 376(2)(a) IPC after which the Inspector was acquitted against which a criminal appeal was further filed. Mohd. Ali was convicted and a criminal case was also lodged against the petitioner.

The petitioner’s case was that she being a rape victim, whose identity was disclosed by the media, was not able to get any accommodation even on rent and so invoked the jurisdiction of this court in the matter of her rehabilitation. The landloard had asked her to vacate the premises owing to non-payment of rent. She stated that she had three children and no means of survival and the administration, media and society had now compelled her to lead a life with no security, no job and no shelter. The counsel for the State submitted that the petitioner has lodged various FIRs alleging rape against several persons and thus, was in the habit of making false allegations.

The Supreme Court, relying on the case of Nipun Saxena and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors. [(2019) 2 SCC 703], stated that “A rape victim suffers not only a mental trauma but also discrimination from the society”. The court further added “On an inquiry by the Court as to which authority is to ensure that the minor children of the petitioner are provided free education, learned counsel submitted that it is Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi who can take the appropriate measures to ensure that the minor children of the petitioner are provided free education”, and directed the Commissioner to do the same. The SC postulated upon Section 228-A IPC and held that “No person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of the victim or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make her identity known to the public at large”.

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