Police registered on Tuesday an FIR against the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief, Swati Maliwal, for allegedly revealing the identity of a 14-year-old Dalit rape victim, who died on Sunday.
Law prohibits people from making public or broadcasting the name of rape victims; and the general practice is to avoid such details in news and public reports that could give away the wronged woman’s identity.
The Dalit girl died in hospital after a neighbour raped her repeatedly in north Delhi’s Burari on July 23, and forced a corrosive substance down her throat, which damaged her internal organs.
Delhi Police said Maliwal circulated a notice she had sent to the deputy commissioner of police Madhur Verma last week, in which she had asked how investigators were handling of the rape case. The notice handed out to print and electronic journalists had the name of the victim.
The FIR alleges the notice was intentionally circulated on various WhatsApp groups, and shown by TV channels. The editor-in-chief of a news channel held the notice before the camera during a prime-time programme aired on July 25, it adds.
“To divulge the name of the rape victim is an offence,” the FIR says.
A disclaimer, mentioning that the victim’s name was given out by mistake, was sent on the “DCW media group” on WhatsApp soon after the contents of the notice were shared. Later, a photo of the notice was circulated, in which whitener was used to conceal a word.
The 30-year-old Maliwal will be summoned for questioning. DCP north Verma said: “We have registered a case … It is against the law to share any information that would divulge the identity of a rape victim.”
Sources said staff from the news channel will be called for questioning too. “How did they allow the notice to be flashed on camera? They should have edited it,” a police source said.
Maliwal, the AAP government’s pick for the post, called the controversy and FIR a political vendetta.
“DCW issues Notice to PS Burari for role in 14 year old girls case. 2 days later Delhi Police registers baseless FIR against me. Vendetta?” she tweeted.
Another tweet reads: “My fault: Raised questions on failure of Delhi Police in protecting 14 year old girl. Will raise more issues. Not scared of FIR. Jai Hind.”
Maliwal, whose appointment last year as DCW chief triggered a confrontation between lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, questioned the law against revealing a rape victim’s name.
“Also, why shud rape victim hide her identity? Shouldn’t rapists be hiding? Is it the shame of a victim that she was subjected to cruelty?” she tweeted.
Maliwal and DCW officials were not available for comments about the FIR.