HC orders probe against former DGP Siby Mathews for revealing identity of rape survivor

 Former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews
Former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered a probe against former DGP Siby Mathews for disclosing the identity of the survivor in the 1996 Sooryanelli rape case through his book ‘Nirbhayam: Oru IPS Officerude Anubhavakkurippukal’.
Station House officer of Mannanthala police station has been asked to conduct a preliminary probe and confirm whether the former police official committed an offence under section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code (disclosure of identity of sexual assault victim).

A retired police officer KK Joshwa approached the court seeking action against Mathews after Thiruvananthapuram City Police Commissioner refused to act on his complaint. The complainant alleged that Mathews revealed the names, occupations and other details of the survivor's parents though he didn't mention her name. The book carries a chapter titled 'Sooryanelli case' and uses terms like 'peedippikkapetta penkutti' (meaning sexually assaulted girl), Joshwa said in his complaint. Mathews published his book in 2020 after taking voluntary retirement from the service.

While considering the complaint, Justice A Badharudeen quashed the order issued by the police commissioner, who said that there no need to register a crime against Mathews.

“On reading the preliminary enquiry final report and the legal opinion, I have no hesitation to say that the finding in the final report is an attempt to save the former higher police official from the clutches of prosecution. As per the preliminary enquiry final report and the legal opinion given by the Director General of Prosecution, both of them found that the details were sufficient enough to identify the girl as “peedippikkapetta penkutti”. When analysing the Malayalam term “peedippikkapetta penkutti” the same means a victim of 'sexual assault' or 'molestation' or 'rape'. So the word would carry the offences dealt in Section 228A of IPC. Apart from referring to the girl as “peedippikkapetta penkutti”, her identity as a 'rape victim' is discernible from the book itself otherwise," the court said.

Disclosing the identity of a rape victim is an offence under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code and punishable with imprisonment of up to two years and a fine.
(With Live Law inputs)

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