Social Welfare department warns against disclosing identity of victims of rape, sexual assault

The Manipur Social Welfare department cited the provision under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

The Social Welfare department has cautioned against disclosing identity of victims of rape and sexual assault and appealed to honour the dignity of the victims.

A notice issued in this regard by the department said that under the provision of Section 74 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Section 23 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, disclosure of identity of children who are victims of rape/ sexual assault is strictly prohibited even in the case of deceased victims because the memories of a departed soul cannot be sullied/ dishonoured.

According to Sub-Section(1) of Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, no report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or audio-visual media or other forms of communication regarding any inquiry or investigation or judicial procedure shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particulars, which may lead to the identification of a child in conflict with law or children in need of care and protection or a child victim or witness of a crime involved in such matter under any other law for the time being in force nor shall the picture of any such child be published, it cited.

However, for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Juvenile Justice Board (JOBs) or Child Welfare Committees (CWC), as the case may be, holding the inquiry may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the best interest of the child, it said.

Referring to Sub-Section (2), it said that the police shall not disclose any record of the child for the purpose of character certificate or otherwise in cases where the case has been closed or disposed of.Subsection (3) provides that any person contravenes/disobey the provisions of Sub-Section (1) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or both, it cautioned.

It further said that Sub-Section (1) of Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 provides that no person shall make any report or present comments on any child from any form of media or studio or photographic facilities without having complete and authentic information which may have the effect of lowering his her reputation or infringing upon his/her privacy.

Referring to Sub-Section (2), it said that no reports in any media shall disclose, the identity of a child including his name, address, photographs, family details, school, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child.

For reasons to be recorded in writing, the Special Court, competent to try the case under the Act, may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the interest of the child, it added.

The notice also pointed out that the publisher or owner of the media or studio or photographic facilities shall be jointly and severally liable for the acts and omissions of his employee according to Sub-Section (3).

“Sub-Section (4) states that any Person contravenes/disobey the provisions of Sub-Section( 1) or Sub-Section(2) shall be liable to be punished with imprisonment of either description for a period which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year or with fine or with both,” it added.

First Published:Sept. 17, 2020, 8:48 a.m.