The Delhi high court on Friday sought the response of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on a plea for registration of a first information report (FIR) against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for allegedly revealing the identity of a Dalit girl, who was allegedly raped and killed in the national capital in August 2021.
The court was hearing a plea by a social activist Makarand Suresh Mhadlekar, claiming that by posting the photo with the parents of the victim on Twitter, the former Congress president violated the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which prohibit the disclosure of the identity of minor victims of sexual offences.
A bench of chief justice Satish Chandra Sharma and justice Sachin Datta issued notice to the child rights body and granted it four weeks to file a counter-affidavit in response to the petition after its counsel urged the court to issue a formal notice to them as it was not done earlier.
The court granted time to the counsel to file a detailed affidavit and posted the matter for hearing on July 27.
A nine-year-old Dalit girl died under suspicious circumstances on August 1, 2021, with her parents alleging she was raped, murdered and cremated by a crematorium’s priest in Southwest Delhi’s Old Nangal village.
NCPCR had earlier told the court that despite Twitter’s claim about taking down Gandhi’s alleged tweet, the offence of making such disclosure survives.
During a hearing in October last year, the court had refused to accede to a similar request by NCPCR to file an affidavit and deferred the hearing on the plea till December 7 considering that the petitioner engaged a new lawyer to represent him in court.
On the other hand, Twitter had submitted that “nothing survived” in the petition as the tweet in question has been “geo-blocked” and was not available in India. Its counsel had also informed that initially Gandhi’s entire account was suspended by the social media platform but it was later restored.
The plea has also sought initiation of appropriate legal action against Gandhi by the NCPCR.