The Delhi High Court Wednesday ordered 12 media houses to pay Rs 10 lakh each for violating norms and revealing identity of the 8-year-old girl gangraped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district. Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar called the order a measure for the time being. They asked the media houses to deposit the money with the court’s Registrar General. The money would be transferred to Jammu and Kashmir State Legal Service Authority’s Compensation Fund for survivors of sexual violence and their families.
The court issued the order after lawyers of the media houses apologised and blamed ignorance for the violation. They maintained that it was done under the assumption that it would facilitate speedy prosecution of the accused. The lawyers said their clients would be willing to pay to establish their sincerity. The court asked the media houses to file an affidavit of apology within three days and to specify the rectification measures.
Nine of the media houses, which were issued notices for revealing the identity, apologised through their lawyers.
The notices were issued to The Times of India, The Hindu, The Statesman, The Pioneer, Navbharat Times, NDTV, Firstpost, The Week, Republic TV, The Deccan Chronicle, India TV and The Indian Express. No lawyer appeared on behalf of The Pioneer, Firstpost and The Deccan Chronicle.
The court deleted The Indian Express from the array of parties and substituted it with ‘IE Online Media Services Private Ltd’. This came after The Indian Express Ltd’s lawyer N B Joshi told the court they have been wrongly arrayed as a party. He added the correct entity to be impleaded would be IE Online Media Services Private Ltd.
Lawyer Sudhir Nandrajog, who appeared for The Times of India and Navbharat Times, told the court that M/S Bennett Coleman and Co Ltd (BCCL) runs the publication. The court modified its order and arrayed BCCL after Nandrajog said it has to be impleaded instead.
Earlier, the judges said they would like to see the editors of the media houses. The lawyers apologised and said that they will ensure publicity to the law that requires the privacy of a rape victim to be maintained. The court would hear the matter again on April 25.