Names of the Accused & Victim not to be Disclosed

The names and addresses of the victim and the accused should not be printed or published in relation to the inquiry or trial of rape or any offence under Section 376, 376A, 376C, 376D or 376E of Indian Penal Code (IPC) without the previous permission of the court, says the High Court of Kerala in Saleel Raveendran v Union of India.

This embargo under Section 327 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is not applicable to bail proceedings too.

The press, though they have right to publish news and views, cannot have unlimited freedom to publish details of criminal cases pending investigation and trial.

In the garb of right to free speech and expression press and media cannot be permitted to publish reports in a manner hampering investigation and trial or prejudicing the right of defence of the accused in any manner or holding the suspect or accused guilty even before the conclusion of the trial.

In matrimonial cases and sexual offence cases where law does not recognise open court system, the registry of the court should not publish or allow publication of Identity of the parties on the websites maintained by the court, if parties to the litigation insist.

Once a matter becomes a matter of public record, the right to privacy no longer subsists and it becomes a legitimate subject for comment by the press and media.
But it is impermissible to publish the names and details of the female victims of a sexual assault, kidnapping, abduction, or such an offence in the interest of decency under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution.

Any person who publishes any matter in relation to the proceedings before a court in Section 228A (1) of the IPC without previous permission of the court shall be punished with imprisonment for a time which may extent to two years and fine.

However, printing or publishing judgement of any High Court or Supreme Court does not amount to an offence within the meaning of the section 228 (3) of the IPC.

Additional reading

  1. Saleel Raveendran v Union of India [ 2024 (1) KHC 132]
  2. Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)