- Apprentice Lawyer
The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice in a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking action against social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube so that they take down content revealing the identity of victims of sexual offences (Manan Narula v GNCTD & ors).
The plea also prayed for action against 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 Chief Justice DN Patel and Jyoti Singh sought response from the Delhi government as well as the above named publications/portals/news organizations and social media platforms.
The PIL preferred by advocate Manan Narula (petitioner) alleged gross violation of Section 228A IPC by the named publications/portals/news organizations and social media platforms.
Specifically referring to the Hathras rape case, the petitioner submitted that all the named publications/portals/news organizations "published information relating to the victim" that disclosed her identity to the public at large.
"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," the petition said.
Before the Court, the petitioner pointed out that hashtags with the name of the Hathras Rape and murder victim were used on Twitter by a large number of people including celebrities.
It was further stated 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.
In response to the PIL, advocate Rahul Mehra, Standing Counsel for Delhi government stated that the issue of disclosure of a rape victim's identity was very serious, especially in the age of social media.
Mehra, however, "with a heavy heart", added that the petitioner ought to move the trial court under Section 156(3) for action against the erring entities.
The Court ultimately issued notice in the petition and sought response from all parties.
The petition was filed through Advocates Suman Chauhan and Jivesh Tiwari.
The matter would be heard next on February 5.