Last week, the micro-blogging site Twitter temporarily locked out Rahul Gandhi’s account after it received notices from the National Commission of Women (NCW) asking the social media giant to take action against the Gandhi-scion for violating the guidelines under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Twitter also informed the Delhi High Court that it had locked the Twitter account of Rahul Gandhi after the senior Congress leader violated its policy by sharing pictures that revealed the identity of a minor rape victim in a tweet posted by him.
The action against Rahul Gandhi by Twitter, a social media platform often viewed as an ally of the left-liberal establishment supported by the Congress party, did not go well with the Congress ecosystem and they started outraging against Twitter, accusing them of being the puppet of the Modi government.
Congress party supporters even changed their pictures on Twitter to express their solidarity to the Congress leader and alleged that Twitter was “biased” against them.
Well, even Rahul Gandhi too posted a video rant on YouTube where he alleged that his account had been locked because Twitter was beholden to the Modi government, and therefore, the platform was ‘denying the right to opinion’ to his 20 million followers.
Following Rahul Gandhi’s video, the left-liberal intelligentsia and legal luminaries descended on Twitter to defend their beloved liberal icon Rahul Gandhi and propagated misinformation saying Rahul Gandhi had not violated any provisions of the POCSO act. Indira Jaising, an ’eminent’ Supreme Court lawyer and legal activist, came in support of Rahul Gandhi to lie about the provisions of the POCSO act.
In an attempt to absolve Rahul Gandhi and further his propaganda, Indira Jaising tweeted, “We must understand the prohibition against disclosing the identity of a rape victim is to protect the living survivor, that logic does not apply to the dead victim”.
We must understand the prohibition against disclosing the identity of a rape victim is to protect the living survivor , that logic does not apply to the dead victim @TwitterIndia @ShashiTharoor @RahulGandhi— Indira Jaising (@IJaising) August 12, 2021
She had further said that it makes “no sense” to prohibit publishing a photograph of a “dead rape victim”. She alleged that the prohibition was meant for the living.
However, Indira Jaising, a veteran lawyer who fights for terrorists and urban Naxals, seems to have wholly misrepresented the law to shield Rahul Gandhi from the repercussions of his breaking the law that is meant to protect minor rape victims and their families.
Jaising claimed Rahul Gandhi did not violate provisions under POCSO Act
In her tweet, Indira Jaising had made two assertions. First, she had claimed that the law is meant to protect the identity of only the living survivor.
Secondly, as per Jaisingh, if the minor victim dies, then it makes ‘no sense’ for their identity not to be revealed – also insinuating that it was not against the law, to begin with.
The law, however, is rather clear on this aspect. For example, section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 prohibits the disclosure of the identity of a child in any form of media and Section 23 of the POCSO Act, 2012 also states that no information/photo of a child should be published in any form of media which could reveal the identity of the child.
Both the laws – the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, have the provision for imprisonment and fine for those who break this law. In fact, the government had in 2018 clarified that these laws would also apply to victims who were dead.
Besides the legislative provisions, the Supreme Court judgment, in the Nipun Saxena vs Govt of India (2019), had issued specific guidelines regarding not disclosing the victims’ details even after their death.
It was not a mistake, Indira Jaising is aware of the provisions under POCSO Act, she was the amicus curiae
Despite glaring evidence of Rahul Gandhi violating the two legislative provisions by posting an image that revealed the identity of a minor rape victim to score a political point against the Modi government, Indira Jaising came to the rescue of the Gandhi-scion. But, unfortunately, in doing so, she ended up exposing her own biases.
Initially, it seemed like Indira Jaising’s defence of Rahul Gandhi came out of her ignorance about the little nuances in the specific clauses of both the POCSO Act and the JJ Act. Some gave Jaisingh the benefit of the doubt that she may have been pressurised to defend the indefensible despite not having the requisite knowledge on the issue and asserted that she might have committed the glaring error.
However, it has now been revealed that Indira Jaising, in fact, has a fair amount of understanding of the POCSO Act, as she was appointed as the amicus curiae by the Supreme Court in a petition that sought the court to examine the provisions of very same POCSO Act.
Ironically, the “legal luminary” Indira Jaising, who has jumped to defend Rahul Gandhi by misinterpreting the laws today, had defended the POCSO act in front of the Supreme Court just three years ago. Then, the “eminent” Supreme Court advocate had argued that disclosing the identity of a victim of sexual assault infringed the privacy of that person, and it should not be allowed at any cost.
A Supreme Court bench headed by controversial former SC judge Madan B Lokur, who himself is a senior member of an NGO funded by the US State Department, had appointed Indira Jaising as an amicus curiae in a case that sought to re-examine the provisions of the POCSO Act that imposed curbs and balances for media in reporting incidents of sexual assault against child victims.
Defending the provisions of punishments against the violations of the POCSO Act, especially when revealing the identity of the rape victim, the Supreme Court advocate had said a balance of rights of such victims and that of the media to report such incidents was required. She had said that the apex court should interpret Section 228-A of IPC (dealing with disclosure of the identity of victims of sexual offences) and provision 23 of the POCSO Act, which deals with the procedure to be followed by media.
“A balance will have to be struck. We do not want a complete ban on the media, but the victim’s identity should be protected. Also, there should not be any media trials,” Jaising had told the bench, also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta.
Three years down the line, Indira Jaising, who had herself contended that the disclosing of the identity of the rape victim affected one’s fundamental rights, has now come to the rescue of Rahul Gandhi by misinterpreting the very same provisions of the POCSO Act which she had defended.
From contending that disclosing the identity of a victim of sexual assault infringes the privacy of that person to defending Rahul Gandhi for doing the exact same crime, Indira Jaisingh has come a long way.
It is not clear what caused this, but it is indeed surprising to see a so-called ’eminent’ lawyer doing a flip-flop on her legal opinions just because the person violating the provisions this time happens to be Rahul Gandhi.