Mumbai: The Bombay High Court once again expressed displeasure over lawyers revealing the identities of rape survivors and imposed fine of Rs10,000 on lawyers for revealing the survivor’s mother’s name.
This is a second order within a month passed by the high court imposing costs for disclosing the identity of a minor survivor despite the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act).
The HC was hearing a petition filed by the accused seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him by the survivor’s mother.
In the petition copy, the mother’s name was revealed. “Despite the mandate of POCSO Act’, the learned counsel for the petitioner has mentioned the name of the prosecutrix’s mother in the petition and in the cause title as well as annexed the photographs, chats and emails,” said a division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Prithviraj Chavan.
“For the same, we impose costs of Rs10,000 on the learned counsel for the petitioner. The said costs are to be paid to the Kirtikar Law Library (situated inside the HC, Mumbai) within one week,” added the court.
The court has allowed the advocates – Manoj Kumar Tiwari and Hrishikesh Mundargi – to amend the petition and mask the name of the victim’s mother wherever it appears in the cause title or in the petition and replace it with an alphabet. Also, permission has been granted to amend the petition to remove photographs from the petition.
After amending the petition, the HC has said that a notice be issued to Pune police and the complainant asking them to file their replies to the quashing petition.
The HC, in December 2022, had raised concern over names of rape survivors being revealed in petition copies, despite repeatedly asking advocates not to reveal the same. The HC had imposed Rs5,000 cost on a law firm that drafted the petition for disclosing the name of a rape survivor.
The HC reminded that disclosing the identity of the survivor is a punishable offence with two years of imprisonment as per section 228A of the IPC.
The POCSO Act too imposes a prohibition from disclosing the identity of the victim.