By Gajanan Khergamker
Recently, the media has been rife with reports of the recently-nabbed rapist and murderer of the Kerala law student having had “sex with goats”. A leading newspaper’s report’s screamed ‘Accused used to mutilate animals’ private parts.’
Incidentally, all of this was revealed following police interrogation in which the accused ‘confessed’ that he used to mutilate the private parts of the animals he had raped and often killed after having “used them”.
The 23-year-old migrant labourer from Assam has been under police custody since his arrest on June 16. The police also claimed to have recovered a video of Islam having sex with the goat of a family in Perumbavoor. He is also seen mutilating the private parts of the animal in the video. According to the police, the video was shot by one of Islam’s friends also another migrant labourer who helped the police identify the accused.
The police suspect that some of the acquaintances of the suspect would also commit acts of bestiality with animals. They used to shoot the video of others having sex with animals. Islam also has the habit of watching porn movies on his mobile phone. When the news of Islam’s sexual perversions came out, people from the locality took their goats and cows to veterinary hospitals for medical checkups. The accused was arrested from Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu after a one-month-long investigation by the Kerala police.
Reportedly, the DNA-test conducted by the police confirmed that the accused was the rapist and murderer of the Kerala law student.
Also, for over a month, every newspaper in the nation has been making public the identity of the Kerala law student in flagrant violation of the law of the land. It must be understood that we may disagree but, in the world’s largest democracy, well-meaning institutions are bound by the law and operate ‘within’ legal frameworks.
DraftCraft wishes to highlight two tendencies of modern journalism that need to be addressed with urgent immediacy. The gravity associated with a story on rape or murder notwithstanding, the media should never ever compromise on objectivity and the law. More often than not, media practitioners some even senior journalists aren’t aware of the following:
1) According to Section 25 of Indian Evidence Act, any Confession to police-officer not to be proved. No confession made to a police-officer shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence. This section is very broadly worded. It strictly disallows any confession made to the police officer as inadmissible no matter what the circumstances. This is to ensure that confessions are not forcibly extracted by the police from an accused to implicate him in any crime.
2) Revealing the name of a rape victim is punishable under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code which prohibits the disclosure, not only of the victim’s name, but also of facts that could lead to the identification of the victim, such as the place of residence, identifying or naming the victim’s family or friends, university, or work details.
Now, for those who find a problem in adhering to the above, there is a democratic procedure to alter the same and change the law. Breaking the law to announce its impotency even while there are perfectly legal procedures to change it, doesn’t make any sense and borders on the commission of an illegal act too. In doing so, media professionals step on the wrong side of law. No amount of freedom immunises you from an act of crime done willfully. Publishing even on social media places the author at risk of breaking the law. You could have an FIR filed against you for an IPC violation; a magistrate’s order urging police action; a suit of defamation filed by one legally hurt or action under the IT Act. Say your bit but do it legally.
Don’t say you weren’t told!