The Delhi Police's case against Zee News for allegedly revealing the identity of the 23-year-old gangrape victim by airing an interview of her male friend may not withstand judicial scrutiny, say legal experts.
The police have registered a case under section 228 A of the IPC
(Disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences etc) against Zee News, which aired the interview on Friday and Saturday.
In the interview, the lone eyewitness to the brutal incident recounted the events of the December 16 night and criticised the police for their lapses.
Experts junked the applicability of the provision in relation to the interview.
Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Hegde said the provision accorded no protection to the identity of the witness. The witness voluntarily spoke to the media and the name of the rape victim had not been revealed, he said, adding, "If a witness chooses to speak to the media, it's well within his rights."
Hegde criticised the police's move terming it "scare tactics".
"They are trying to enforce a media gag without any particular authority under law," he said, adding the police were trying to control the narrative.
Advocate Puneet Mittal said Section 228A IPC confined itself to victims of rape and protection under this provision was not available to witnesses.
Talking about the Parliament attack case, where the media was called to interview Afzal Guru, Mittal said, "It's completely dichotomous. When police do it, it's alright, but when media does it, it's not."
There were several other cases in which the police had paraded the victim and accused, he pointed out.
Calling it "back lash against the criticism of the police" by the male friend, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan said the section had no application if the name of the rape victim was not mentioned in the interview and it had no bearing in relation to the male friend's interview, as he was a only a witness.
This was done to "muzzle any sort of criticism," he added.
But former Delhi HC Judge BA Khan said the case depended on how the matter would be put up before the court.
He said it depended on the content of the police charges and if the parameters of the provision are met.
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