While dealing with a case where a rape victim was alleged to have been denied rental accommodation in Jharkhand after her identity was revealed by the press, the Supreme Court today held that Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has to be followed by the media.
The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy and MR Shah delivered a judgment to this effect in a writ petition filed by a Scheduled Tribe rape victim.
The petitioner was abducted at a young age and then married off to the person who took her away. Soon thereafter, she divorced him.
After her divorce, she was raped and the assailant was convicted under Section 3(xi) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Before the Supreme Court, the petitioner argued that her identity was revealed to the press by the police and thereafter she was denied rental accommodation. She thus sought rehabilitation and relief measures so that she can take care of children dependent on her.
In its order, the Supreme Court noted that “a rape victim suffers not only a mental trauma but also discrimination from the society.”
Notwithstanding the State’s submission that the petitioner had earlier levelled false allegations of rape against individuals, the fact that one of the accused was convicted by a lower court is enough to treat the woman as a rape victim, the Court said.
The Court thus directed the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi to take measures to ensure that minor children of the petitioner are provided free education in any of the government institutions in Ranchi, where the petitioner is residing, till they attain the age of 14 years.
Further, the authorities have been asked to consider the case of the petitioner for providing housing under the Prime Minister Awas Yojna or any other Central or State Scheme.
The Senior Superintendent of Police, Ranchi and other competent authorities have been directed to review the police security provided to the petitioner from time to time.
On the issue regarding disclosure of her identity by the media, the Court, after considering Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code and its judgment in Nipun Saxena v. Union of India, held,
“The law with regard to Section 228A is well established, all including the media, both print and electronic have to follow the law.”