A day after the Madras High Court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to pay an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the Pollachi survivor for ‘violation of her privacy, dignity and image’, the Directorate General of Police (DGP) TK Rajendran issued a circular memorandum on Saturday to all police officers to restrain from revealing the survivor’s details.
DGP wrote that when it comes to cases pertaining to POCSO, rape and prevention of sexual harassment against women, the investigating agencies are duty-bound not to reveal the name and identity of the victim under any condition. The circular also said that reports can be submitted to the Courts only in sealed covers.
“It is hereby instructed that in cases of POCSO, rape or cases of prevention of women harassment etc, the name of the victim, address or any particulars must not be mentioned in any form of communication whatsoever. In this regard, all the Commissioners of Police in cities and Superintendents of Police in Districts are strictly instructed that the names of the victims must not be mentioned in any communication sent from the police station to sub-divisional office, district police office, range office, zonal office and chief office. All Special Unit officers are also requested that the names of such victims must not be mentioned in any form of communications,” read the circular.
The DGP also said that the instructions should be “strictly reiterated in the monthly crime review meetings,” and must be communicated to all subordinates. The circular also stated that any deviations would be “viewed very seriously”.
The Tamil Nadu Police Department has been widely criticised for its callous handling of the Pollachi sexual assault case. In blatant disregard to sensitivity and the Supreme Court orders, Coimbatore Superintendent of Police R Pandiarajan revealed the total number of videos he received and the number of accused during the first stage of the investigation itself. He also compromised the identity of the 19-year-old survivor who filed the complaint.
In addition to the SP’s erroneous conduct, a Government Order issued by the Home Department on Wednesday to transfer the case to the CBI also insensitively revealed details such as the name and college of the survivor.
In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Ilamugil from Trichy, the Madurai Bench of the High Court on Friday ordered that all videos relating to the case be removed from the internet.
Submitting that videos, pictures and audio files related to sexual offences are being circulated on social media, Ilamugil, in his petition, also stated that the Supreme Court has ordered that the identity of the victim in sexual crimes shall not be revealed in the FIR, court documents or in the media under any circumstances.
In spite of the Supreme Court order, the Tamil Nadu Police Department’s indifference to protecting the survivor’s identity drew severe flak from many in the state.