A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court to frame guidelines to protect the reputation and dignity of persons accused of sexual offences.
The petition, filed by the Youth Bar Association of India, said a person was considered innocent unless proven guilty by a court of law. If a person was falsely accused, his reputation would be lost forever and exposed to public ridicule for no fault of his. This would be a violation of the fundamental right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. “It does not only destroy an individual’s life but also creates a social stigma for the family members too… Some preventive measures must be taken to avoid and deal with such situations in the interest of justice,” it said.
Disclosure of his identity, especially during trial, would lead to media trial. Besides, considering the wide reach of social media, the person’s name and even that of his family, which might include minors, would be exposed on the Internet. This would be a violation of their fundamental right to privacy. “In present times, where people are in a virtual world, the reputation and integrity of a person is always an easy target to destroy,” the petition said.
The petition said it would be tragic that the person, even after being found innocent, would continue to be known as a suspected sex offender on social media because once his identity entered the public domain it would become searchable and permanent. “The previous identification as a suspect will endure in the public sphere,” the petition said.