High Court raps media for disclosing Kathua gangrape victim’s identity

The Delhi High Court today issued notices to several media houses for disclosing the identity of the eight-year-old who was gangraped and killed in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and prohibited them from further revealing her identity.

The high court, which took up the matter on on its own after coming across the media reports, said it was “unfortunate” and “extremely distressing” that the victim’s photograph was also displayed in the print and electronic media.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notices to several media houses whose reports the court had come across and sought a response asking why action should not be taken against them.

“A whole media trial is going on,” it said.

The court directed media houses to not bring out any publication containing the girl’s name, photograph, name of school or any other details which could disclose her identity.

The court said the news reports “disrespected and violated” the privacy of the victim which “cannot be permitted under any circumstance”.

The bench said there are provisions in the penal law and under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act which prohibit any kind of reporting that affects reputation and impinges on the privacy of victims, including children, of sexual offences.

The eight-year-old had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir on January 10.

Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The state police Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed a main chargesheet against seven persons and a separate chargesheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.

The chargesheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

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