In April 2019, a petition had been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Central government to frame guidelines to protect the identity, reputation and integrity of individual/s accused of sexual offences, till completion of the investigation. The petition has been filed by Youth Bar Association of India.
In a victory of sorts for all Men being named under false charges, the Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre with regards to the same.
What Was the Petition?
- Youth Bar Association of India has submitted that false accusations in sexual offences can destroy the entire life of an innocent person
- There have been instances where persons falsely implicated in such cases have even committed suicide
- It does not only destroy an individual’s life but creates a social stigma to the family members too
- Thus, preventive measures need to be taken to prevent such situations
- 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
- Further, it is the petitioner’s case that when the accused are named by the media and the public, the person’s reputation takes a beating
- Damage to reputation can be significant for people who are incorrectly suspected of having committed a serious crime
- When such persons are named, their identity comes in the public domain and becomes searchable and permanent. Even if they are subsequently found innocent by the investigation agency, their previous identification as a suspect will endure in the public sphere
The petition also states that the Supreme Court came forward and framed guidelines in Vishaka and Ors. v. State of Rajasthan to protect the integrity of the victim and to safeguard the victim from facing social stigma. Applying the same principles, guidelines should be framed for safeguarding the integrity and the reputation of the accused who could fall prey to “powerful sections of the society”, the petition states.
The petitioner association has, therefore, prayed for guidelines to be framed:
To protect the identity, reputation and integrity of individual/s allegedly accused of sexual offences, till completion of the investigation by the competent agency
Directions have also been sought to be issued to the media (print, electronic and social) not to disclose the identity of individuals allegedly accused of sexual offences, till completion of the investigation.
The petition had been filed by Youth Bar Association of India and Deepak Bansal.
It must be noted that Chief Justice of India too was named in a sexual harassment charge earlier this year. A three-judge Supreme Court panel investigating the allegations of sexual harassment against Ranjan Gogoi had given CJI Gogoi had given clean chit in the matter in May 2019.
The in-house committee, which was headed by Justice SA Bobde, said that it did not find any substance in the allegations of a former Supreme Court employee who had accused CJI Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment.
While the name of the accuser is still not known, Gogoi’s name was splashed all across the media. Also, this is one example of a judge being judged even before the verdict was pronounced. When it comes to common man, the trauma of facing the charges even before being proven guilty can be truly haunting.
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