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Sunday, November 01, 2020

Amit Malviya, Swara Bhasker, Digvijaya Singh get NCW notice for revealing Hathras victim’s identity

The Commission has directed the three to remove the posts and refrain from sharing such information in future.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 7, 2020 12:43:37 am
The NCW has also directed them to immediately remove the posts and refrain from sharing such information in the future.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has served notices to Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya and actor Swara Bhasker for allegedly revealing the identity of the 19-year-old Hathras victim on Twitter and sought an explanation from them.

The Commission has directed the three to remove the posts and refrain from sharing such information in future.

Disclosure of the identity of a victim of certain offences are barred under IPC Section 228(A) and whoever is found to have flouted it can be punished with imprisonment extending up to two years, and will also be liable to fine.

Despite repeated attempts, Malviya, Singh and Bhaskar were unavailable for a comment.

The Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper caste men in UP’s Hathras village on September 14. She later succumbed to injuries at a Delhi hospital. According to the family, the local police cremated her in the dead of night without informing them.

On Friday, Malviya had tweeted a 48-second video clip and wrote, “Hathras victim’s interaction with a reporter outside AMU where she claimed there was an attempt to strangulate her neck. None of it is to take away from the atrocity of the crime but unfair to colour it and demean the gravity of one heinous crime against another…”

In the video, the woman could be seen lying on the ground, her face clearly visible. The video is no longer available on Malviya’s timeline.

Congress leader Singh’s tweet is also no longer available, but actor Bhasker’s tweet, which shows the protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Friday with some placards carrying the victim’s photograph and the actor herself in the frame, was still available on her handle late in the evening.

Explained

What the law says

IPC Section 228 (A) says whoever prints or publishes the name of a rape victim, or any matter which may make known the victim's identity, can be punished with imprisonment of up to two years as well as a fine. The NCW had so far withheld notice on the ground that there were conflicting reports on whether the 19-year-old Hathras woman had been raped. But the probe so far has not ruled out rape, which makes it a suspected rape case. The same principle applies even after the victim's death – the law mandates that her identity needs to be protected.

In separate notices to the three, NCW said it has come across several Twitter posts in which the victim’s picture was used. “In view of the above, you are required to provide a satisfactory explanation to the Commission on receipt of this notice and shall remove and refrain from transmission of such pictures/ videos on social media, as they are widely circulated by your follower(s), which is prohibited by existing law,” the notice stated.

hathras case, hathras protests, hathras gangrape, yogi adityanath, up police, indian express Tight security at the village of the Hathras victim, on Monday. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma told The Indian Express: “The people who have been served notices have a huge fan following, and they must lead by example. If they are doing something which is not only illegal but also very sensitive, they are setting a wrong precedent.”

Sharma had earlier pointed out that the video tweeted by Malviya was “unfortunate’’ and “absolutely illegal”, but the NCW did not take immediate action given the “uncertainty of whether this is a case of rape or not”.

A day after taking cognizance of Malviya’s tweet, the NCW also took cognizance of tweets by Singh and Bhasker.

On Tuesday, Sharma said the decision for any criminal proceeding will take place only after the NCW receives replies to its notices.

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