Case: Manan Narula v. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.
Coram: Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh
On Friday 8th January, the division bench of Delhi High Court comprising of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued a notice in a petition filed by a lawyer seeking action against major social media sites for exposing the identity of the victim of Hathras Rape and related victims in the public domain, a notice was issued breaching her right to privacy. The platforms for social media include Twitter, Youtube, Buzzfeed, News 18, Facebook etc.
The petitioner seeks adequate directions from the State of NCT of Delhi as the law enforcement agency that has the responsibility to take action to prevent and ensure that the material posted by these respondents is taken down where the victim’s details have been published on the public platform.
Background of the petition
The petitioner, an advocate, has approached the HC under Section 226 of the Constitution seeking appropriate directions against 15 major social media platforms including Twitter, Youtube, Facebook etc for revealing the identity of the Hathras gang-rape victim.
According to the petitioner, these respondents have published information relating to the victim disclosing her identify in a public domain which is accessible for people at large. This action, according to the petitioner, is actionable under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which provides for imprisonment for anyone who publishes the name or any other matter which reveals the identity in such cases.
The petition also makes State of NCT of Delhi as a respondent.
The petition puts reliance of the judgment of Nipun Saxena v. Union of India [W.P. CIVILNo. 565/2020] wherein it was held that any person who makes known the name and identity of a person who is an alleged victim of an offence falling under Sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376E of the Indian Penal Code commits a criminal offence and shall be punishable for a term which may extend to two years.
The judgment also provides that in cases where the victim is dead or of unsound mind the name of the victim or her identity should not be disclosed even under the authorization of the next of the kin, unless circumstances justifying the disclosure of her identity exist, which shall be decided by the competent authority, which at present is the Sessions Judge.
The 15 respondents as listed by the petition are as follows: 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, The Citizen.
The petition says,
“On careful perusal of circumstances prevailing it has been found out that the 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 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.”