SC bars disclosure of identity of rape victims, even after death


New Delhi: While laying down directions to protect the identity of rape victims, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled against any disclosure and barred it even in cases where the rape victim may have died or is of unsound mind and the parents have consented to such disclosure.

Accordingly, police and forensic authorities have been barred from disclosing the identity of a rape victim after parental nod. Putting first information reports (FIRs) on rape and those under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, in public domain also stands prohibited. Protection to the identity of rape victims would also extend to social media posts on which any sort of identity disclosure has been barred.

On media reporting of rape victims, it was held that the crime could be reported without disclosing the name and identity of the victim and that the media should refrain from interviewing the victim and sensationalizing the issue.

“Only a judge will henceforth decide if disclosure is in larger public interest,” the court held.

The top court also highlighted how rape victims were prejudiced and treated worse than their perpetrators and that society’s attitude towards rape victims needed to change.

At an earlier hearing, a bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur had observed that it was pivotal that the identity of rape victims not be revealed in cases where the victims were alive, were minors or of unsound mind as they had a right to privacy and should not have to live under such stigma throughout their lives. Even the dead have dignity and they cannot be named or shamed, it was added.

The court was hearing a plea dealing with the issue of disclosure of identity of rape victims, including the minor who was raped and murdered in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. Under challenge was Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, that deals with disclosure of identity of rape victims.


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