HC takes suo moto cognizance of Bandipora rape case
Asks IGP to file status report by Friday; directs media to follow statutory prohibitions against disclosure of identity of victim
Srinagar May 15: The J&K High Court on Wednesday registered the rape of a minor girl child at Bandipora as a writ petition in public interest and directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir to report to the court steps being taken for effective investigation into the matter besides protection to the victim and her family.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan while taking suo moto cognizance of the matter ordered that the incident be registered as a public interest litigation.
The bench pleaded an array of senior police and civil officers as respondents in the matter and issued notices to them returnable by Friday the 17lh of May, 2019. The officers include IGP Kashmir, Secretary Health and Medical Education Department, Member Secretary J&K Legal Services Authority.
“The notice issued to IGP Kashmir shall indicate that a report to this Court regarding the steps for effective investigation into the matter as well as protection given to the victim and her family shall be filed on or before the next date”, directed the court.
The court took note of the media reports apprehending effectiveness of the investigation and attempts by certain persons to interfere with the investigation in order to prevent the guilty being brought to book.
However it held, “there can be no manner of doubt that the investigating agency has to be permitted to discharge its responsibilities independently and freely without any kind of interference and obstruction by person or authority,” adding, the police is vested with the responsibility of ensuring adequate protection to the victim as well as her family.
The court directed the State Legal Services Authority shall ensure legal aid to the victim and grant of compensation to her under the government schemes in vogue.
“We also find that in cases of sexual violence, critical requirements of sensitive medical examination, treatment and counseling of the traumatized victim must be ensured. Adequate provision of these facilities is the responsibility of the medical authorities of the State”, directed the court.
It observed that Bandipora incident is not the first incident of sexual violence in the state. “Sexual violence unfortunately is endemic to human beings and is not confined to any particular culture, class, religion, age or geographical location”, it said.
The court asked for campaigns on sensitizing youngsters about the punishments for committing crimes relating to sex.
Dwelling on the manner and nature of reporting of Bandipora incident by the media the court said “the alleged offence is being effected in the media in absolute violation of specific statutory prohibitions against disclosure of identity of the victim especially in respect of a minor victim”.
“No person shall make any report or present comments on any form of media or studio or photographic facilities without having complete and authentic information, which may have the effect of lowering victim’s reputation or infringing upon her privacy”, directed the court.
In categorical terms the court said “no reports in any media shall disclose the identity of a child including her name, address, photograph, family details school, neighborhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child without the permission of the court”
The publisher or owner of the media or studio or photographic facilities shall be jointly and severally liable for the acts and omissions of his employee. The violators shall be liable to a punishment with imprisonment of six months or more, the court warned.
A three-year-old girl was allegedly raped last week by her neighbour, leading to widespread outrage and protests against the incident.
The accused has been arrested by police and a special investigation team constituted for a speedy investigation of the incident.
Rashid Paul is Associate Editor at Kashmir Images.
He can be reached at [email protected]