Chennai: In a stunning indictment of the Tamil Nadu Government and its police for revealing the identity of the Pollachi sex scam victim, the Madurai Bench of the Madras high court on Friday ordered that a compensation of “at least” Rs 25 lakh be paid to her “for violation of privacy, dignity and image”.
The court also directed the government to withdraw the GO transferring the case to CBI and issue a fresh order deleting details of the victim.
Since the victim’s name had been revealed by the Coimbatore police and later by the state home secretary in his G.O. transferring the investigation to the CBI (March 13), “great damage has been caused” to her and she must be compensated, said the court, while pointing out that Sec 228(A) of IPC and also the Supreme Court order in 2012 in Nipun Saxena and another Vs Union of India and others, have been violated by the disclosure of the victim’s identity.
The Bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Ilamugil of Trichy seeking ban on social media circulating videos, audio files and photos relating to heinous crimes such as rape-in the context of the heavy social media traffic of the Pollachi sex scam.
The judges also came down heavily on the Coimbatore SP, R Pandiarajan, for revealing even in the first stage of investigation the total number of videos he received and the number of the culprits. "The irresponsible conduct of the police officer is highly condemnable by this Court and it is appropriate to issue direction to the State Government to take disciplinary action against the said police officer," said the judges in their order.
"The whole nation is shell-shocked", they said while expressing deep anguish at the Pollachi sex crime and that the "said video is circulated and vie-wed every day by lakhs and lakhs of people through social media". Such videos impact minds, particularly of the impressionable young. Renowned psychiatrist Dr Shalini in Chennai went on record on social media stating that she has been receiving male patients reporting that they got excited seeing such scandalous videos "and also expressed wish to perform the same horrible acts", the court said and ordered the Central Government and the Internet Service Providers Association of India at New Delhi to prohibit circulation of the scandalous Pollachi videos.
The court also referred to reports that the Pollachi scam involved more than 100 victims and directed the state government to give psychological counseling to them "in any other town/place other than Pollachi so that their identity would be safeguarded". Ordering the Central and the state governments to respond on the Supreme Court order to set up 'One Stop Centres' to deal with rape cases across the country, the court also directed the state government to advertise that circulating the videos of the sexual assault is an offence.
Advocating spread of public awareness on this issue through films, short films and pamphlets giving details of the advantages and disadvantages of using Internet, cell phone and other cyber platforms, the court also directed the Central and state governments to "include this as a chapter in school and college syllabi"....