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Madras High Court prohibits Media from revealing the identities of victims of Sexual Assault

Madras High Court severely reprimanded print and visual media for releasing the names and information of the sexual abuse and sexual violence victims during the trial, and it prohibited print and electronic media from publishing information on the victims, their family members, the witnesses, or any documents related to the victims’ depositions.

The court noted that disclosing such information would intimidate the victim and ultimately result in the criminals getting away with it. Therefore, despite the fact that the media depends on viewership, it shouldn’t interfere with people’s lives. Thus, Justice Dhandapani noted,

“It is true that the print and electronic media depend on the pulse of the populace, and the news that they deliver to their citizens as soon as possible affects their standing and rating in the league. However, this cannot be the justification for playing with the lives and liberties of the populace, as well as the justice delivery system, which is ultimately the common man’s saviour.”

The court also stated that violating the order will result in serious repercussions and instructed the registry to circulate the order to the Press Council of India and the State Press Council.

“It is clearly stated that this Court will take harsh action against the aforementioned corporation if the print or electronic medium violates the aforesaid directives. The registry is instructed to send a copy of this order to the State Press Council in Chennai as well as the Press Council of India, New Delhi so that it can be sent to all of the print and electronic media in the nation.”

The court was hearing a request to stop all media outlets from publishing or disclosing information about rape victims while a 2019 rape case was being tried. The plea also demanded that “Nakheeran Magazine” face harsh punishment for disclosing the victim’s identity and photograph.

Although the plea also requested that the circulations be seized, the court determined that this request was no longer useful because it had already come to the attention of the ordinary individual.

The damage that has already been done by the publication of the news that this Court felt the Press, in its wisdom, would not publish cannot be undone by this Court just by ordering the seizure of the publications. This Court’s mark has already been made in the minds of the public as well as the victims and witnesses.

However, the publication produced by the monthly journal “Nakkheeran” is a resounding testament to its wisdom. Therefore, insofar as the third limb of the request is concerned, there would be no useful purpose in providing any relief.

The journal, however, had published materials that the court had ordered to be kept in a closed sphere, the court noted. It endangered the victims’ lives by disclosing information about their deposition. Such a publication was not only in poor taste, but also went against the letter of the court’s decision and directly hampered the administration of justice.

Nakheeran Gopal, the editor of “Nakkeeran Publications,” and the court were thus added as parties on their own motion.

Anamika Singh
Anamika Singh

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