(Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)
(Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

SC notice to Centre on plea to protect identity of those accused of sexual offences

  • The petition, filed by Youth Bar Association of India, said that a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
  • The petition said there have been instances where the accused, who has been falsely implicated, have even committed suicide

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to Centre on a plea, seeking protection of identity, reputation, and integrity of individuals accused in sexual offences cases till the completion of investigation in such cases.

The petition filed by Youth Bar Association and Advocate Reepak Kansal was heard by a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde and has sought a reply from the Centre.

The petition said the name of the accused surfaces in media reports and the said person’s reputation faces severe damage even if charges are proven false. It added that often people falsely implicated in such case are pushed to commit suicide, while family members of the accused face social stigma.

The petitioners cited Vishakha guidelines, framed by the Supreme Court to protect the integrity and safe guard rape victims of sexual harassment cases, and sought similar guidelines for those accused in such cases.

The petition also highlighted the lacuna in section 228-A of Indian Penal Code which provides punishment for disclosing the identity of the victim but not of the accused. It said the identity of accused should also be kept under wraps unless convicted since reputation of the accused is lost forever even if the person is acquitted.

“Need of the hour demands that some preventive measures must be taken so as to avoid and to deal with such situations in the interest of justice," said the petition.