LOK SABHA ELECTIONS 2019: INDIA DECIDES

Chennai: Govt, police identifying Pollachi victim draws flak

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | KATHELENE ANTONY
Published Mar 15, 2019, 2:18 am IST
Updated Mar 15, 2019, 2:18 am IST
The Act provides for punishment for disclosure of the identity.
Madras University students seek action against the accused in Pollachi sex scam. (Image: DC)
 Madras University students seek action against the accused in Pollachi sex scam. (Image: DC)

Chennai: The shameful Pollachi sex scam on Thursday gathered further scum with rights activists and the social media erupting in anger against Tamil Nadu Government and its police alleging they violated the norm set in the 'Nirbhaya Act-2013' by revealing the identity of the victim.  

GO No.169 Home (Police XIII) of 13.3.2019 issued by Additional Chief Secretary sanctioning the transfer of the case to the CBI identifies the victim by her name, the name of her college in Pollachi and also the name of her brother who was beaten up and issued life threat by the culprits.

 

And this is not the first time the victim’s name has been proclaimed by the authorities, despite cries of protest that such exposure was scaring away the other victims from coming forward to complain, alleged the critics on the social media and Opposition political parties.

When the Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore Rural, Pandiarajan was asked at the press conference on March 6 about the victim's identity being revealed twice in two press releases by his office – one of them had even her address and her caste name - he brusquely replied, "That was a mistake. We regret".

Said twitteratti Shilpa Rathnam: "Victims are scared to come forward not only because of the political connections of the gang but also because they're being shamed by the government and the police. Some men are posting shit like how they won't marry any girl from Pollachi".

Another post by ‘Anonymous’ declared, "This is not a blunder if you ask me. This is a conscious decision so nobody else will come out with allegations and they can close the case with one victim".

When a 23-year-old Delhi student was subjected to brutal gang-rape and murder on December 16, 2012 her identity was kept secret in India and she came to be called Nirbhaya for whose justice, the nation witnessed an unprecedented roar, paving for the tabling of the new anti-rape law, known as the Nirbhaya Act. The Act provides for punishment for disclosure of the identity.

But there is exemption provided in the Act, points out noted rights lawyer Ms Sudha Ramalingam, referring to Sec 228A(2) of IPC that allows such publication of name of the victim "under the order in writing of the officer-in-charge of the police station or the police officer making the investigation into such offence acting in good faith for the purposes of such investigation".

"How can the FIR, the charge-sheet, the court proceedings, obliterate the victim's name and go by some fictitious identity during investigation and trial? Even in the Nirbhaya case, the FIR and court papers had the real name, while it was the sensitive media acting responsibly that decided to protect the victim's name and call her Nirbhaya", said Sudha.

Going a step further, the lawyer-activist says society "needs to attempt some serious introspection, even jettison the archaic anti-woman conservatism driving the victim into a dark corner and a shell".

"Naming and shaming should be for the accused. The victim need not, and ought not, to be shamed for being named. She must fight back openly and the society must stand by her. Such a change in our outlook will go a long way in preventing crime against woman", Sudha argues.

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