The Supreme Court of India, on 20th January, 2021, while hearing the matter of Ms. X vs. the State of Jharkhand and Ors., ruled that it is mandatory for both print and electronic media to act in accordance with the provisions of Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as ‘IPC’). Section 228A of IPC talks about Disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences and punishment attached to violating the same.

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy and MR Shah delivered their judgment while hearing a Writ Petition filed by a Scheduled Tribe rape victim, who was abducted and married off at a young age. The further ended the marriage by divorcing the man. Thereafter she was raped and her assailant was prosecuted under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Through her Petition, she conveyed to the Supreme Court that the Police officers had revealed her identity as a rape victim to the press, and she was filing this Petition against the media channels for making her identity public due to which she was denied accommodation at a rental that she had approached. She thus sought directions and relief measures so that she was able to take care of her children wholly dependent on her.

While pronouncing its verdict, the Court remarked that, “A rape victim suffers not only a mental trauma but also discrimination from the society.” With this statement it mandated all including the media to comply with section 228A of the IPC. The Court also referred to the judgement passed in the matter of Nipun Saxena vs. Union of India, observing that, “A victim of rape will face hostile discrimination and social ostracisation in Society. Such victim will find it difficult to get a job, will find it difficult to get married and will also find it difficult to get integrated in society like a normal human being. The law with regard to Section 228A is well established, all including the media, both print and electronic have to follow the law.”

The Court therefore, while pronouncing judgment, directed the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi to take appropriate measures to ensure that minor children of the Petitioner are provided free education in till they attain the age of 14 years. Further, the authorities have been asked to consider the case of the petitioner for providing housing under the Prime Minister Awas Yojna or any other Central or State Scheme. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Ranchi and other competent authorities has been directed to review the police security provided to the petitioner from time to time.

 

Order: Supreme Court Judgment