Twitter locked the account of Rahul Gandhi temporarily after he violated laws pertaining to revealing the identity of minor rape victims. India has laws that ban the disclosure of the identity of minor rape victims but Rahul Gandhi violated the same by sharing a photograph of his with the parents of the victim. Consequently, his account was locked.
The Congress party had initially claimed that their leader’s account was suspended but Twitter clarified that it was not the case and his account had only been temporarily locked. Now, the party is challenging Twitter to lock their account as well and are wantonly violating the law.
Prominent leaders of the Congress party are violating the law as well. Randeep Singh Surjewala is accusing the BJP of engaging in a conspiracy to silence the voice of Rahul Gandhi instead of delivering justice to the victim.
It is not clear why justice cannot be demanded within the ambit of the law, especially a benign law that is not morally ambiguous at all and is designed to protect the interests of the victim’s family.
Other leaders are participating in the trend ‘Main bhi Rahul’ as well but they appear to be smart enough to not risk the health of their Twitter account. They are not sharing the photograph of the parents of the victim.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had brought Rahul Gandhi’s tweet to Delhi Police and Twitter’s notice and asked them to take action against Gandhi as he had posted the photo of the girl’s family on the social media platform.
Gandhi’s actions violated the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act that bars everyone from revealing the identity of a minor victim in any format, including print, television and online platforms. Acting on the notice issued by NCPCR, Twitter removed Gandhi’s tweet and locked his account for violation of its rules.
Law against revealing the identity of the minor victim
According to Chapter 9, Other Offenses Against Children, Section 74, of Juvenile Justice Act, no report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or audio-visual media or other forms of communication regarding any inquiry or investigation or judicial procedure, shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particular, which may lead to the identification of a child in conflict with the law or a child in need of care and protection or a child victim or witness of a crime, involved in such matter, under any other law for the time being in force, nor shall the picture of any such child be published. If any person is found guilty of revealing the identity, he or she can be punished with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to rupees two lakh or both.
A similar law exist in POSCO Act as well. Sub Section (2) of Section 23 of Pocso Act states, “No reports in any media shall disclose, the identity of a child including his name, address, photograph, family details, school, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child.” It holds the publisher and owner of the media liable for the acts and omissions of the employee. It further states, “Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be liable to be punished with imprisonment of either description for a period which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.”
Notably, under both laws there is a provision that allows such disclosure but only if such disclosure is in the interest of the child.