The Supreme Court on December 11th, 2018 laid down an absolute bar on the media to publish or air the names or any material which may even remotely reveal the identity of victims of sexual crimes.
In two individual cases in 2003 and 2006, there were specific mentions urging the trial courts, HCs and the SC to not to mention the names of rape victims in their judgments, given the pain they already face in conservative society like India.
A of the Indian Penal Code makes disclosure of identity of a victim in sexual assault cases a punishable offence, which deters media from making public the name of the victim.
However, the above provisions did not bar the media from publishing the names of the victims while publishing the judgements of HCs and SC.
The SC in a recent case heard on Dec 2018 observed that SC has itself violated many times, a self- imposed rule from 2003,.2006 cases that identity of the sexual assault victim will not be mentioned.
The apex court further held the name and identity of a victim who was either dead or of unsound mind should also not be disclosed even under the authorisation of the kin.
The Supreme Court said it was “unfortunate” that rape victims were being treated as “untouchables” in the society. Only Special Courts under POCSO can permit the disclosure of the identity of a minor victim, that too, only if such divulgence were in the interest of the child.