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SC Issues Notice In PIL To Protect Identity Of Sexual Offence Accused

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday i.e. July, 29 has issued a notice in the petition that seeks to protect disclosure of identities of those accused in sexual crime cases until the investigation in their case concludes. Youth Bar Association of India and advocate Deepak Bansal have filed the petition as they believe that accusations of sexual crimes tarnish the reputation of the person and have the potential to destroy the life of an innocent person accused in a fake case.

“It does not only destroy an individual’s life but creates a social stigma to the family members too.” they said.

The petition seeks the apex court to direct the central government to frame guidelines to protect the identity, integrity and reputation of persons accused of sexual offences until the probe comes to an end.

The petition seeks the apex court to direct the central government to frame guidelines to protect the identity, integrity and reputation of persons accused of sexual offences until the probe comes to an end. Youth Bar Association states that false accusations ruin people’s lives as in some cases individuals have committed suicide because of fake sexual offence accusations.

The petition, drawn by advocates Sanpreet Singh Ajmani, Kuldeep Rai, Ankur Jain, Emamuddin Azmi and Ashok Dobhal and filed through advocate Piyush Dwivedi, urges that there should be definitive measures to prevent harming reputation of accused persons in sexual crimes. It adds that since the accused are named by the media and the public, the person’s reputation gets damaged. It can be crucial for people who are incorrectly suspected of having committed a serious crime.

After a person has been accused in a sexual crime case and has been named in the media, their names are etched on the internet and people’s memories permanently and despite the fact that they are found innocent in the case, their “previous identification as a suspect will endure in the public sphere”, the petition states.

It suggested that the SC should actively participate in protecting the identity of the accused persons as it has acted in the same way in protecting the rights and integrity of sexual crime survivors through its Vishakha Guidelines initiative. Similarly, it should aid the framing of guidelines for safeguarding the integrity and the reputation of the accused who could fall prey to “powerful sections of the society”, the petition contends.

It has also sought directions to be issued to the media (print, electronic and social) to refrain from disclosing the identity of individuals allegedly accused of sexual offences, till completion of the investigation.

It has also sought directions to be issued to the media (print, electronic and social) to refrain from disclosing the identity of individuals allegedly accused of sexual offences, till completion of the investigation.

MeToo movement in India sparked the trend of naming and shaming of sexual offence perpetrators on social media around October last year. Women across the entertainment, media and some from the corporate industry named and shammed their alleged perpetrators on social media to show solidarity towards the cause of sexual harassment at the workplace. While the movement was hyped extensively and garnered immense support, it also raised questions on the future of its impact and its sustainability. One of the major critiques of it was blatant naming and shaming that could also ruin a person’s image in a case of false accusation.

A senior executive working at Genpact, Swaroop based in Noida was also accused in a case of sexual harassment by two employees at the firm. After the allegations, he was suspended from his post of assistant vice-president in the company. In December 2018, Swaroop committed suicide and he left a suicide note addressed to his wife which read, “I am going as everyone will look at me with that eye even if I come clean.”

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