Delhi High Court to hear PIL against social media platforms for revealing names of rape victims

The Delhi High Court will continue its hearing on Monday in a plea seeking action against major social media platforms for exposing the identity of the victim of Hathras gangrape and related victims in the public domain, thereby breaching the right to privacy of the victims. 

The PIL has been filed by Advocate Manan Narula through Advocates Suman Chauhan and Jivesh Tiwari. According to the petitioner, social media platforms, including Twitter, YouTube, Buzzfeed, and Facebook, have published information relating to the victim, disclosing her identity in the public domain, which is accessible to people at large. 

The plea alleged that Delhi Police failed to take cognisance of the actions by the named publications/portals/news organisations and social media platforms, as disclosure of the identity of victims of sexual offences is a punishable offence under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code.  

The plea prayed for direction to Delhi Police to register an FIR against Twitter, IDiva, The Telegraph, Janbharattimes Media, News 18,  Dainik Jagran, United News of India, Bansal News, Dalit Camera, Buzzfeed, Youtube, Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd, The Millennium Post, Wikifeed and The Citizen for violating the Right to Privacy of the victim.

In addition, the plea prayed for an appropriate action against the above-named platforms to direct them to take down/withdraw any material, news article, social media post, or any such information published by them with reference to the details of the identity of the victim in the particular case or similar cases. 

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Furthermore, the plea seeks a direction to these platforms, as also to similar organizations or individuals engaged in the broadcasting of information, to broadcast following correct legal provisions by way of short videos, clips, flashers, notes, news tickers, social media posts, social media stories or any similar means.

The plea also sought direction from the Delhi Police to organize legal awareness camps, legal literacy camps, lectures, interactive workshops, newspaper advertisements, hoardings to make people aware of the legal provision in respect of disclosure of the identity of victims of sexual offences.

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The plea reads thus:

“On careful perusal of circumstances prevailing, it has been found out that media houses and other forms of news publications and information sharing portals, websites have been found contravening such laws that violate the privacy of the victim especially in cases relating to sections pertaining to the trial of rape and similar cases. It is also observed that such actions of the Respondents have resulted in such violative actions to be practiced by the masses and the general public at large, it can be seen that the media houses and similar portals play an impressionable role on the citizens receiving such violative information.” 

“Instead of disbursal of misconstrued information and facts that are illegal and misguided, these Portals and Media houses should instead broadcast and publish correct position of the law and guidelines regarding the non-disclosure of such names and identity of the victim to spread awareness amongst the masses by using the 23 medium of their services and also mention that such actions of disclosure amount to an offense punishable under the Indian Penal Code U/s 228A,”

-the plea adds further.

The Bench had earlier sought response from the Delhi Police and various social media organizations and media houses for the alleged disclosure of the identity of the victim of the Hathras gang-rape incident.

Case Name- Manan Narula vs. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.
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