SC seeks response from search engines, FB on rape videos

06 Dec 2016


The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from three internet search engines and social networking site Facebook on a plea that sought curbs on sharing videos related to sexual offences and cybercrime.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Uday Umesh Lalit sought responses from Google India, Yahoo India, Microsoft Corporation (India) Ltd and Facebook by 9 January on non-government organisation Prajwala's plea seeking a defined place where one could report such rape videos and seek their blocking.

The court's notices for response came during the course of hearing of a letter by Hyderabad-based Prajwala along with two rape videos. The two videos submitted in a pen drive showed a man raping a woman and another man filming it.

The NGO's lawyer Aparna Bhat said videos of sexual offences are shot and posted online, and pleaded for court directions to them to take steps to curb cybercrime.

As the court sought responses on the plea, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the bench about the steps taken by the government and the Central Bureau of Investigation to curb cybercrime. The CBI is the nodal agency to deal with the cases of cybercrime.

The government said this in response to a 28 August direction by the top court asking the information technology ministry about the way it could assist in reporting and blocking videos of rape, which are in circulation on social networking websites, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

As Maninder Singh said that a debate is on in the country and abroad on making public the identity of sexual offender, the court said the identity of an alleged rape offender should not be made public merely on the registration of an offence but only after conviction.

The court said if a person gets acquitted he would suffer damage to his image because of prior disclosure of his identity. "It will tarnish the image of a person, (even) if he is acquitted in the sexual offence case," the bench said.

The bench said if a person is acquitted of a sexual offence, the CBI will not investigate him for the cybercrime aspect of the offence.

Pointing to National Crime Record Bureau statistics on a sharp rise in cases of sexual violence against children, the apex court asked the Centre to include in the list of measures for curbing crimes against women, the steps to protect children from sexual violence.

The NGO's co-founder Sunitha Krishnan said it is engaged in the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking for sex trade.

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