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While hearing a public interest litigation, Delhi High Court has issued notice to social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for disclosing the identity of victims of sexual offences.

The petitioner has also sought action against the media houses including BuzzFeed, The Citizen, The Telegraph, iDiva, Janbharat Times, News 18, Dainik Jagran, United News of India, Bansal Times, Dalit Camera, The Millennium Post and Wikifeed.

A division bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has also sought the reply of Delhi government as well as all the abovementioned news organizations/portals/publications and social media platforms over the PIL.

The PIL was moved by advocate Manan Narula in which he alleged that these news organizations/portals/publications and social media platforms had violated the Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code by revealing the identity of rape victims. The petition was moved through advocates Suman Chauhan and Jivesh Tiwari.

The petition had specifically referred to the Hathras rape victim, whose identity was shared at large at various social media platforms.

“The actions of such disclosure of the identity of the victim of rape is an offence under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and there has been no action taken on behalf of the Respondents No. 1 (Delhi government) which is the law enforcement agency empowered to take notice of such offences,” said the petition.

The petition also pointed out that the issue of disclosing the identity of a rape victim was taken up by the High Court suo moto as well when it came down heavily on several media houses for disclosing the details of the Kathua gang-rape victim.

Advocate Rahul Mehra appearing for Delhi government submitted that the issue of disclosure of identity of the rape victims is really serious, especially in this digital era.

However advocate Mehra stated, “The petitioner ought to move the trial court under Section 156(3) for action against the erring entities.”

The bench issued notice and sought response from all the parties. The matter has been posted for hearing on February 5.


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