They had disclosed the girl child’s identity, violating her fundamental right

Holding the Delhi Police and TV news channel Aaj Tak liable for breach of privacy and confidentiality of a child victim of sexual abuse by disclosing her identity, the Delhi High Court has asked the two to jointly pay a compensation of Rs.6 lakh to the victim’s mother as a “palliative measure”.

Indicting the two for violation of the victim’s fundamental right, Justice Vipin Sanghi also stated that the police had revealed the identity of the minor girl in violation of their circular on not making public the identity of a sex abuse victim and the news channel telecast details about her disregarding journalistic norms.

However, Justice Sanghi found no evidence of violation of the privacy of the victim against an English national daily as alleged by her mother, the petitioner in the matter.

Justice Sanghi also dismissed defence put up by the police and the news channel over violation of the victim’s fundamental right.

The 48-page Court order said that of the total compensation amount, the police would pay Rs.1 lakh while the remainder would be paid by the news channel.

The order further said that the two respondents would also pay the petitioner Rs.25,000 as litigation cost.

The Court gave liberty to the petitioner to move a civil court for further damages if she so desired.

“The petitioner and her daughter shall be entitled to claim further damages from the persons/entities concerned, if they are so advised, by approaching the civil court concerned,” Justice Sanghi stated.

The Court directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to immediately set up an inquiry into the disclosure of the FIR and its details by them to the newspaper and the news channel.

Referring to the TV channel recording the talks with the victim’s mother at her residence, the Court said: “Such gross misconduct on the part of respondent No. 3 (Aaj Tak) calls for the strongest condemnation. Their act was a display of a prurient or morbid curiosity as proscribed in the ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ laid down by the Press Council of India.”

“I, therefore, hold respondent No. 3 (Aaj Tak) herein liable for gross negligence and, consequent, breach of fundamental right of the petitioner’s daughter in telecasting the said programme containing particulars sufficient for the disclosure of the identity of the petitioner’s daughter.”

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