NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking guidelines to protect the identity, reputation and integrity of those accused of sexual offences till the completion of the probe. A bench headed by Justice S A Bobde asked the government to respond to the PIL filed by Youth Bar Association of India.
The petition highlighted the lacuna in section 228-A of Indian Penal Code which provides punishment for disclosing the identity of the victim but not of the accused. It said the identity of accused should also be kept under wraps unless convicted since the reputation of the accused is lost forever even if acquitted.
The petition stated that often people falsely implicated in such cases are pushed to commit suicide, while family members of the accused face social stigma.
“Some preventive measures must be taken so as to avoid and to deal with such situations in the interest of justice,” said the petition. Asserting that maintaining the right to reputation was an integral part of right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the PIL said baseless allegations of sexual harassment tarnished the image, repute and goodwill of a person in the society, adversely affecting his life even if he was found to be innocent later.
The petition urged the court to frame certain guidelines like it did in Vishaka Guidelines to protect the integrity of victims of sexual harassment and social stigma.
The SC issued notice to Centre and Bar Council of India on a plea seeking to formulate a scheme towards social security measures for women advocates. The plea asked for measures such as life insurance, and mediclaim for loss of income on account of maternity leave.