Media houses to pay Rs 10 lakh each for identifying rape victim

New Delhi, April 18 :The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed 12 media organisations to pay Rs 10 lakh each as compensation for disclosing the identity of an eight-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.

Advocates representing the media houses told a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar that the mistake was due to ignorance of law and misconception that they could name the victim as she was dead.

As the media houses apologized, the court asked them to deposit the compensation amount with the Registrar General of the High Court within a week and directed that the money be transferred to Jammu and Kashmir to be used for the victim’s compensation scheme.

The media houses are The Times Of India, The Indian Express, NDTV, The Hindu, Republic TV, Deccan Chronicle, Navbharat Times, The Week, The Pioneer, Firstpost, The Statesman and India TV, court documents showed.

The court directed that wide and continuous publicity be given to the statutory provisions of law regarding privacy of victims of sexual offences and punishment for revealing their identities.

The court observed that there were long term repercussion to the victim’s family, especially for the women members, due to such kind of reporting.

The court last week issued notice to several media houses for disclosing the victim’s identity, saying it violated law and was punishable under Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the publication of photographs and the name of the rape victim, the court said that under Section 23 (Procedure for media) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act any person who discloses the identity of a child victim could be sent to a minimum six months’ imprisonment.

The High Court also said it will take up the issue of social media being used as a tool for revealing and disseminating the identity of victims of sexual violence at a later stage and listed the matter for further hearing on April 25.

The minor in Kathua was held captive inside a temple and sedated before being repeatedly raped and murdered.

Sanjhi Ram, the caretaker of the temple, has been named the main accused and is said to have planned the heinous crime to instil fear among the Bakarwal community to which the victim belonged.

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