Mumbai: In order to protect the identity of the victims of sexual offences, the Bombay High Court has directed all investigating agencies to ensure that they do not disclose their identities even in the chargesheet, which is handled by several people.
A division bench Justices Vibha Kankanwadi and Abhay Waghwase of the Aurangabad bench of the HC, on February 8, noted that the investigating agencies attach certain photographs in the chargesheet which discloses the victims’ identities.
Investigating agency has to be sensitive to the issue: Court
"The identity of the victim cannot be disclosed by any of the authorities in the charge-sheet. Nowadays, we are finding that photographs are taken i.e. either the old photographs are collected or even victim showing the spot of occurrence are taken and those photographs are produced in the charge-sheet,” said the court.
The court clarified that it is not against taking such photographs, but is opposed to it being openly added in chargesheet. Since the chargesheet is handled by several people, the investigating agency has to be sensitive to the issue and submit such documents/ photographs in a sealed cover to protect the identity of the victims.
The bench averred: “Under such circumstances, the identity of the victim is disclosed. The investigating agency has to be sensitive in the matter. If they want to produce such documents, then it should be put in a sealed envelope including in the copies of the charge sheet also, so that the identity of the victim is not disclosed in any manner.”
The justices said that they were “constrained” to make the observations since they have come across several “such incidents time and again”.
Even the accused of such offences, while relying on certain photographs revealing identity of the victims, should submit the same in a sealed cover, added the justices.
Judges of trial courts asked to ensure same
The bench has further asked the judges of the trial courts to ensure, while accepting the chargesheet, that the identity of victims is not disclosed in any manner.
Failure to follow directions may invite the action for the offence under Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, said the court. The sections deals with Disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences which is punishable upto two years’ in prison and/ or fine.
The HC was dealing with a bail plea by a rape accused. He was arrested following a complaint by a widow alleging that he raped her under the pretext of marriage and later refused to marry. The HC observed that it as a consensual relationship and granted him bail.
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