Since 02/06/07, the media in India has been extensively covering and sensationalizing the case of a nine-year-old juvenile who has allegedly killed three children in the past one year. The press has branded him as a ‘serial killer’; it has gone to the extent of publishing his photograph with such news items along with the name of his village.
The press has grossly disregarded Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2006 enacted by the Government of India which prohibits publication of the name, address or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile. As per this law, the penalty has been enhanced from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 25,000 for any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or visual media that discloses the name, address, school or any particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child or publishes the child's pictures.
However, only if the enquiring authority in the interest of the juvenile permits such disclosure in writing, then the press is justified in publishing such news. In the instant case, it is very unlikely that the enquiring authority gave any such permission, even if such permission was given, then was it in the interest of the juvenile?
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and this is a clear cut case of human rights and juvenile justice being taken for a ride at the mercy of media in India.