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Media violate rights of juvenile Delhi gangrape accused

July 19, 2013

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The media gathered outside the Juvenile Justice Board during the hearing on the juvenile accused. AFP

The media gathered outside the Juvenile Justice Board during the hearing on the juvenile accused. AFP

No one at the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) II in New Delhi can forget 11 July.

“There were more [than a 100]. I can have a bet,” a legal aid counsel said, when asked about the number of journalists present at the hearing of the juvenile accused in the 16 December Delhi gangrape case.

The sheer volume and quality of news coverage has sparked a debate on media reporting on underage suspects, with experts criticizing the unproven vilification of the young man and violations of confidentiality.

Juveniles in conflict with the law (JCL) are tried under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2000. Section 21 of the JJ Act prohibits the media from disclosing any detail that can lead to the identification of the JCL unless such disclosure is allowed by the authority conducting the inquiry. Violation of section 21 is punishable with a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000.

A 2012 order of the Delhi High Court also underscores the need to maintain complete confidentiality in cases involving juveniles. And India is a signatory to the UN Standards Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, which requires the juvenile’s right to privacy remain inviolate at all stages of the legal process in order to avoid harm caused by undue publicity.

Violation of these laws, however, were routine in reporting on the Delhi gangrape matter, raising serious concerns about the way media should cover issues involving JCLs, said child rights experts. Read the rest of the story at FirstPost India.

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