Section 74 of The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015- titled ‘Prohibition on Disclosure of Identity of Children’, lays out clear guidelines regarding the non-disclosure of a child victim or witness to ANY crime. It states:
- No report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or audio-visual media, or other forms of communication regarding any inquiry or investigation or judicial procedure, shall disclose the name, address or school, or any other particular, which may lead to the identification of a child in conflict with the law or a child in need of care and protection or a child victim or witness of a crime, involved in such matter, under any other law for the time being in force, nor shall the picture of any such child be published: Provided that for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Board or Committee, as the case may be, holding the inquiry may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the best interest of the child. (2) The Police shall not disclose any record of the child for character certificate or otherwise in cases where the case has been closed or disposed of. (3) Any person contravening the provisions of sub-section (1) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or a fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or both.
The chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Priyank Kanoongo has declared that he received a formal complaint against Rahul Gandhi after he ostensibly violated section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act by disclosing the victim’s identity in a photograph posted by him on the micro-blogging site, Twitter with the parents of the victim- clearly revealing their identities faces in the said post.
Soon after which the official handle of the Congress Party of India tweeted informing about the temporary suspension of Rahul Gandhi’s account and further mentioning that due process is being followed for its restoration.
The suspension came after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra took a dig at Gandhi saying:
“He revealed the identity of the child’s family and is using the issue for his political agenda.”
The account has been restored successfully yet the congress party claims that the action was taken owing to the increasing influence and control of the BJP on social media platforms such as Twitter.
That might be a valid point generally but in this case, the identity of the victim and her parents was, in fact, unmasked and it was a highly insensitive move to make, on the part of youth icon Rahul Gandhi.
A leader should not have to make statements about their intentions publicly to help sufferers claim justice for themselves. With the prowess they have, they can help and be considerate of their lives simultaneously; the only reason why he must have done it disappointingly coincides with what Patra accused him of.
Victims and their families have often been turned into ropes between party tugs-of-war and used as objects to make statements against the opposition; something which is greatly offensive and insensitive to their pre-existing struggles and needs to be redressed by big party leaders instead of being aggravated further.