IPC 228A: Delhi Police Courting Controversy?

India has stringent laws that seek to protect the identity of victims of rape. The rationale or motive of such laws is quite obvious. In a male dominated society, which most societies are, premium is placed on the “honour” of women, who are treated as horribly shamed if raped. Not only that but even the burden of incidence of rape, “instigation” in short, is often  placed squarely on a victim. Since the beginning of history the worst “dishonour” that could be heaped upon even the vanquished men was to ravish “their” women. Women were, as if, no more than chattel. Even today in India it is a weapon of choice to terrorise and to dishonour the “uppity” Dalits or Tribes or any marginalised people, who attempt to claim their voice, dignity, and rights, which they believe are their’s by Indian constitution. The  evolution of what constitutes human rights and of women’s praxis to give centrality to gender issues have informed and transformed legal framework remarkably, but the culture of patriarchy persists with a stubbornness of cancer. Male domination influences not just men, but women too. Men and many women routinely wonder if the victim of rape brought it upon herself somehow. In fact, even the victim herself feels or is made to feel guilty, and not rarely ends up taking her own life. Instead of shaming the rapist, stigmatising him for life; that lot invariably befalls the victim. To stop victimising the victim with voyeuristic publicity, the laws expressly aim to protect her identity. That is why media invented names like “Damini” or “Anamat” to “identify” the victim of brutal rape recently in capital Delhi.
Guardians of law across India show wilful disregard of laws that circumscribe their conduct with women and show callous insensitivity while investigating rapes in case after case. In fact, even custodial and non-custodial rapes are not strangers to men in law enforcements agencies. That is why this news in The Hindu came as a shocker: ^^The Delhi Police on Friday decided to register a case against Zee News after the channel aired an interview with the male friend of the girl who was gang-raped here on December 16, a crime to which he is the lone witness. The case will be filed under Section 228 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to disclosure of identity of victims of certain offences, including rape, Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said^^. Bhagat is wrong when he said “…certain offences, including rape”. IPC section 228 (A) deals with disclosure of  identity of victims of rapes, and rapes alone, since it refers to IPC section 376 only, which prescribes punishment for rape.

^^Section 228A. Disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences etc.— (1) Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as the victim) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine^^. It is true that 376A [police officer commits rape], 376B [public servant commit rape], 376C [management or the staff of a jail, remand home commit rape], and 376D [ management or the staff of a hospital commit rape] find mention separately, but these are just “special cases” of the “general” gender-crime.

Zee News channel, The Hindu reports, interviewed the male friend of the now diseased rape victim. He too was assaulted when the six accused raped and tortured the victim. He is a witness to the crime and a victim of assault. Both He and Zee news were expected to and would have exercised utmost caution to not disclose the true identity of “Damini” or “Anamat”. Nor does the news report say they did disclose her true identity, and would have definitely mentioned otherwise such “sensational breaking news”. Then what crap are the Delhi police talking about? Unless, of course, it is their claim that the male friend was also a victim of “rape” or sodomy. And since he went public on Zee channel with his “identity”, he has fallen foul section 228A. Even this second conjecture doesn’t hold any water if one reads section 228A completely.^^(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) extends to any printing or publi­cation of the name or any matter which may make known the identi­ty of the victim if such printing or publication is—….(b) by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the victim; or^^. Therefore, by virtue of 228A(2)(b), the male friend, even if he is a victim of “rape”, stands absolved of charge of revealing his identity; since “revelation by the victim” is not a crime. If Delhi Police do in fact press the charge, then they would make an ass of themselves, unless of course the assumption made above -“Damini’s” true identity was not revealed- is wrong. However, assumption seems to be correct because otherwise Delhi Police would have no choice but to file case against the male friend of the victim as well and not just Zee TV.

Delhi Police appear to be acting out of malice because the male friend of the victim was highly critical of the way they dealt with the duo. ^^Indian Express….Then someone called the police. Three PCR vans arrived after 45 minutes, before that no one came to help us,” the victim’s friend said in an interview to Sudhir Chaudhary, editor of Zee News….We didn’t have clothes, we were not able to stand….For a dying person, every minute is important,” he said, adding that even when the police finally took them to hospital, “no one even brought us a blanket”….“At the hospital, we had to wait and I had to literally beg for clothes….He also said that the police had delayed taking them to hospital. “Three PCR vans fought over which police station had jurisdiction, which delayed our admission to hospital,^^. That seems to be their real angst.
Zee News Interview.

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2 Responses to “IPC 228A: Delhi Police Courting Controversy?”

  1. Dr. M C Gupta Says:

    MY IMPRESSION–1–Prima facie, section 228A against Zee TV is not attracted. If the legal department of Delhi Police intends to proceed under this section, I would like to see the charge before commenting on it.2–Sodomy is irrelevant to section 228A.–M C Gupta(Ex)Prof. M C GuptaMD (Medicine), MPH, LL.M.,Advocate & Medico-legal Consultantwww.writing.com/authors/mcgupta44

  2. Sadanand Patwardhan Says:

    The Irony of using the word "Sodomy" was lost.1. IPC Section 375 defines rape as sexual intercourse carried under any one or more of SIX circumstances defined there in. It is not gender neutral- it covers rape of woman by man.2. IPC Section 377 defines unnatural offenses as * carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal*. However, it prefaces it with words, *Whoever voluntarily*. section 377 has been struck down in Delhi (by High Court), though it still stands in rest of India.3. If a male is sexually assaulted by one or more males, then legally it won't be rape. It would be Sodomy.It was in that ironical sense word *sodomy* was used in the context of move of Delhi police to sue Zee News Channel regarding disclosure of identity of victim of rape, which neither Zee nor male friend of rape victim had done. And in case the charge was that male friend was sexually assaulted and his identity has been revealed by the channel, then that assault on him cannot be legally called a *rape* [or unnatural offences under section 377 as it was not voluntary and section 377 is not applicable in Delhi] and hence not covered under section 228A.This long winded explanation may clear the issue, but has of course killed the irony.A question for legal experts: Under what section of IPC is the sexual assault [non-consensual sodomy] on a male by one or more males covered?Sadanand

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